The Russia 2018 World Cup is taking place across 11 cities and 12 stadiums. While a number of existing stadiums are being used, Russia has spent more than $10 billion building new stadiums and improving infrastructure for the tournament.
This will be the first time the World Cup has been played in Eastern Europe and Russia are out to make a lasting impression. Let’s take a closer look at the stadiums of Russia 2018.
1. Luzhniki Stadium
Located in Moscow, this stadium is the largest venue at Russia 2018 with a capacity of 80,000. Even before this World Cup, Luzhniki Stadium was one of the most famous football stadiums in Europe, with a number of famous games played here since it opened in 1956. Along with the opening match on 14 June between Russia and Saudi Arabia, this venue will host the second semi-final and the final on 15 July.
2. Saint Petersburg Stadium
Located in Saint Petersburg, this stadium is the second largest at the tournament with a capacity of 67,000. Saint Petersburg Stadium is a new venue made especially for the 2018 World Cup, having only opened in 2017. This impressive stadium was designed by late Japanese architect Kisho Kurosawa to resemble a spaceship. This venue will host the first semi-final and the third place game on 14 July.
3. Fisht Stadium
Fisht Stadium in Sochi has a capacity of 48,000, with this venue opening in 2013 for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Having already hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, this venue is well-equipped to meet the demand of such a large international tournament. Named after Mount Fisht in the Caucasus mountains, the roof of this stadium was designed to look like a snow capped peak.
4. Ekaterinburg Arena
Located in the city of Ekaterinburg, which is also known as Yekaterinburg, this famous old stadium has a capacity of 45,000. Opening in 1957, Ekaterinburg Arena has already played host to a number of big football matches and was once a prominent speed skating venue. Unlike many of the modern venues for this World Cup, Ekaterinburg Arena has retained its traditional Soviet-era, neoclassical pillars.
5. Kazan Arena
Located in Kazan, this venue also has a 45,000 seat capacity. This relatively new arena opened in 2013, with the front of the stadium dominated by a huge high-definition screen. Kazan Arena was designed by the same people who designed Wembley and the Emirates Stadium in England. When viewed from above, it looks like a waterlily from the adjacent Kazanka River.
6. Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium was made especially for the World Cup. It has a capacity of 45,000. Opening just in time for the tournament earlier in 2018, this venue was designed to be the long-term home of Russian football club FC Volga. The future of this stadium is now uncertain, however, with FC Volga dissolving in 2016 due to ongoing financial woes.
7. Rostov Arena
Rostov Arena is located in Rostov-on-Don, with this venue also opening in 2018 in time for the Russia 2018 World Cup. With a capacity of 45,000 seats, this venue will act as the long-term home of FC Rostov. Rostov Arena stands 51 metres tall and is located about 30 kilometres from the Sea of Azov in southeastern Russia.
8. Samara Arena
This venue in the Russian city of Samara has a capacity of just under 45,000 seats. Having opened in 2018 for the World Cup, Samara Arena will become known as Cosmos Arena and host second-tier Russian side FC Krylia Sovetov Samara. This stadium has been designed to look like a glass dome and light up in the night sky.
9. Mordovia Arena
Mordovia Arena in Saransk is another new venue that started being constructed in 2010 but was only finished in 2018. With a capacity of 45,000, this venue features a beautiful orange, red, and white exterior. Because the population of Saransk is only 300,000 people, many of the temporary structures in this venue will be demolished after the World Cup, reducing its capacity to just 25,000.
10. Volgograd Stadium
Volgograd Stadium was constructed at the foot of the famous Mamayev Kurgan World War II memorial. With a capacity of 45,000 seats, this venue has been designed to replace the already demolished Central Stadium and host the second-tier Russian club FC Rotor Vologograd.
11. Spartak Stadium
Spartak Stadium in Moscow opened in 2014 and has a capacity of 42,000 seats. As home to the famous Spartak Moscow, many football fans would already be familiar with this iconic stadium. The outside facade of this venue features a striking display of red and white diamonds, which appear to magically change colour when the Russian national side play there.
12. Kaliningrad Stadium
Kaliningrad Stadium is the smallest venue at Russia 2018, with a capacity of 35,000 seats. Opened in 2018 especially for the World Cup, this stadium features a modern design that is loosely based on Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena. Once the World Cup is over, developers will move in to reduce the capacity of this venue by 10,000 and build residential units and urban parkland alongside the Pregola River.