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MOSCOW, June 2. /TASS/. Moscow’s legendary sports arena Luzhniki, which was built in the 1950s, underwent reconstruction works and was granted a permission to be commissioned ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced on Friday.
"Luzhniki is now ready as a stadium," Sobyanin said on air of Rossiya-24 television channel. "A commissioning report was signed today."
Moscow offers two stadiums as venues for the global football championship, and they are the recently-built Otkritie-Arena, which opened on September 5, 2014, and Moscow’s famous Luzhniki Arena, which is intended to host the opening match, one of the semifinals and the final match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Refurbishment on the Luzhniki Arena was launched in 2013 and once the work will have been completed, the stadium will extend spectator capacity to over 81,000 seats.
This is the second grand reconstruction of the stadium, which was initially built in 1957. The first major repair works on the stadium took place in the run-up to the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow.
Following the current reconstruction efforts, the athletics tracks inside the stadium were removed, the spectators’ stand are now rectangular in form and moved closer to the pitch, while the number of tiers will be increased to 16 from the previous 13.
According to the FIFA.com website, one of the main aspects of the reconstruction project is to preserve the historical facade of the stadium, which since 1956 has 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 musical performers."
The Luzhniki Arena’s principal affinity, however, was with football since over 3,000 matches have been 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. The victory came following 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 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.