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MOSCOW, June 8. /TASS/. The grand opening of Moscow’s legendary sports arena Luzhniki, which was built in the 1950s, will be held with a match between the Russian national football team and a foreign opponent, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Thursday.
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced on June 2 that sports arena Luzhniki had been officially granted the right to be commissioned.
"We are planning to make the official opening of the stadium with a match of the Russian national football team," Mutko said in an interview with TASS adding that he would be paying a visit to the facility today jointly with Moscow Mayor Sobyanin.
"I am paying a visit to the stadium on Thursday together with Sergey Sobyanin," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), said. "Luzhniki has been already commissioned, but there is still enormous work underway concerning the provision of public amenities.
"We will have to discuss and reach a decision about the deadline for such works’ completion near the stadium, since it is not only the stadium itself providing the venue for football matches, but many accompanying details as well," Mutko said.
Moscow offers two stadiums as venues for the global football championship, which will be held in less than two years, 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.