MOSCOW, August 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited on Wednesday the Otkritie Arena, which is a newly-built stadium for Spartak Moscow FC and one of the venues for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
President Putin was greeted at the stadium, located in the north-west of Moscow, by Spartak FC management and the club's former star players, among them Nikita Simonyan, Oleg Romantsev, Georgy Yartsev, Alexei Paramonov, Renat Dasayev, Yury Gavrilov, Sergei Rodionov and Vladimir Beschantnykh.
The construction of the Otkritie Arena began in 2010 with an estimated cost of 14.5 billion rubles (over $402 million). The 42,000-seat stadium occupies an area of 53,758 square meters (13.2 acres) and is almost 53 meters (174 feet) high.
The official opening of the stadium was scheduled for September 5, when Spartak FC will play its inaugural home match against Serbian FC Crvena Zvezda. Legendary Spartak FC, which throughout its almost one century-long history was 12-time USSR champion, nine-time Russia champion and holder of other numerous titles and trophies, had until recently no stadium of its own where to play home matches.
The club used to play most of its home matches at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, one of the 12 stadiums in 11 Russian cities selected to host the 2018 World Cup.
Although there are still almost four years to go before the next World Cup, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday it was already high time to give thought to how the stadiums would be used after the global football event concludes in Russia.
“We need to think about the future of the World Cup's heritage now,” Putin said, adding that there must be events after the World Cup, which would prevent stadiums from "idling at half capacity".
Russia won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup over three years ago in a tight race against the joint bid from England, Portugal and Spain and the joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Shortly before Brazil’s fabulous city of Rio de Janeiro dropped the curtains on the 2014 World Cup with the final Germany-Argentina clash on July 13, the baton of the global football tournament’s hosting nations was passed on to Russia.
The symbolic hand-over ceremony of the right to host the World Cup tournament was held at the iconic 74,700-seat capacity Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro and was attended by FIFA President Blatter, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Russian President Putin.
Blatter said earlier that he intended to pay a visit to Russia in September to monitor the preparation work for the championship in 2018.
Following an official ceremony held in September 2012 and attended by Blatter, Russia eventually selected 11 out of the earlier proposed 13 cities, excluding Krasnodar and Yaroslavl. The final list of the 2018 World Cup host cities includes Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.