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MOSCOW, September 7. /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, are in line with the schedule and the venue will be commissioned in time, FIFA’s Director of Competitions Colin Smith said on Wednesday.
FIFA’s evaluation delegation is on its fourth visit to Russia between September 7 and 15. During the visit, which began on Wednesday in Moscow, the delegation jointly with the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Russia-2018, will stop in five Russian cities selected to host the matches of the 2018 World Cup.
Smith, who is in charge of the FIFA delegation’s current visit, said on Wednesday after the inspection of the construction works at the Luzhniki Stadium that the facility was granted the green status, which means that the work in line with the schedule and the facility will be commissioned in time.
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.