MOSCOW, July 27. /TASS/. The authorities of St. Petersburg will choose a new contractor for the construction of a football stadium for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Wednesday.
"We have discussed the stadium construction schedule with the municipal authorities," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), said. "It can be complied with."
"The process of severing the deal with the current contractor will be completed by August 25," he said. "Today St. Petersburg will choose a new contractor."
The stadium’s general contractor, Inzhtransstroy-SPb, announced on Tuesday it had fully stopped works at the construction site due to the contract severance with the St. Petersburg administration as the customer. The company has said on many occasions that the contract termination may disrupt the schedule of commissioning the stadium.
"The general contractor has problems as it is lagging behind with the fulfillment of some complex works, which it was carrying out itself. But it has to be borne in mind that 90% of all works at this stadium is being done by subcontractors," the Russian sports minister said.
"Their work has not been stopped and what we’re talking now is that a general contractor is needed to complete assembly works placed upon the contractor," Mutko said.
The term of commissioning the stadium has not changed and the new sports facility will be put into operation in December 2016, the Russian sports minister said.
"So far, we are not altering any timeframe. This is December 2016 and the start-up and adjustment works will be carried out in January so that we can hold testing events in April-May," Mutko said.
The Russian sports chief also said that the matches of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup scheduled to be held in St. Petersburg would not be relocated to any other Russian city, despite concerns over the football stadium’s construction in the country’s second largest city.
"We always have Plan B, but this issue is out of the question," Mutko said.
The construction of the Zenit Arena in St. Petersburg intended to host football matches of both the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup has been marred by numerous delays and rising costs as well as by tense relations between the city authorities as the customer and the stadium’s general contractor, Inzhtransstroy-SPb.
The stadium was laid down in the western portion of Krestovsky Island in St. Petersburg in 2007. The construction project was amended three times: in 2008, 2010 and 2013. Each time, the cost of the arena was increased from the initial estimate of 6.7 billion rubles ($268 million at the average ruble/US dollar exchange rate for 2007) to possible 43.8 billion rubles ($692 million at the current exchange rate).
TASS earlier reported that the budget estimate for the Zenit-Arena stadium construction had been raised by 4.3 billion rubles to 39.2 billion rubles ($619 million at the current exchange rate).