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MOSCOW, December 28. /TASS/. Reconstruction works at the Luzhniki Arena in Moscow, one of the 12 stadiums selected to host matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, will be completed by December 2016, half a year ahead of the scheduled date, an official with the Moscow authorities said on Monday.
"Reconstruction works of the country’s main stadium Luzhniki Arena this year were ahead of schedule," Andrei Bochkarev, the head of the construction department with Moscow’s authorities, said. "Therefore, the stadium’s reconstruction is now planned to be completed half a year of the previously scheduled date, i.e. in December of 2016."
Moscow has two stadiums to serve as the venues for the global football championship, to be held in less than three years, and they are the recently-built Otkritie-Arena, which opened on September 5, 2014, and Moscow’s old Luzhniki Arena, which is intended to host the opening fixture and the final match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Reconstruction works at the Luzhniki Arena were launched in 2013 and after the works are completed the stadium will boost the spectators’ capacity of over 81,000 seats.
This is the second grand reconstruction of the stadium, which was initially built in 1957. The first grand reconstruction of the stadium took place in the run-up to the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow.
Following the current reconstruction works, the athletics tracks inside the stadium will be removed, the spectators’ stand will be made rectangular and moved closer to the pitch, while the number of tiers will be increased up to 16 from the previously exploited 13.
According to the FIFA.com website, one of the main aspects of the reconstruction works project is to preserve the historical facade of the stadium, which since 1956 hosted "a multitude of major sporting and cultural events, including the 1980 Summer Olympics, world championships in ice hockey, athletics and rugby and concerts featuring some of the world's greatest musicians."
The Luzhniki Arena’s principal affinity, however, was with football as over 3,000 matches were played there over the years.
Russia won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup at the FIFA Congress in Guatemala on December 4, 2010 in a tight race against the bid from England, the joint bid from Portugal and Spain and the joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
The country later selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 mentioned above cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.
In September, a total of 33 cities across Russia involving over 450,000 people were celebrating the 1,000-day countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
Main celebrations of Russia’s countdown to the FIFA World Cup, which was inaugurated almost a century ago and takes place once in four years, were held in the Russian capital of Moscow.
This summer Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg was the venue for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw, which is the first major kick-off event ahead of the global tournament itself. A total of 208 nations participated in the event on July 25 and it was for the first time in the history of World Cups, when all national teams registered for the Preliminary Draw.