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“Zenit” stadium at the Krestovskiy is no longer the country’s most expensive


A “field of miracles” has emerged next to the Kupchino metro station, surrounded by railroads, high-rise buildings and industrial quarters.


Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “It used to be a plain strip of land not so long ago. But it all changed when FC “Zenit’s” management said a new stadium could be built here”

The miracle is that a 25000-seater (that’s bigger than the Petrovskiy) was supposed to be built in a year. One can say – the Petrovskiy was also built in a year. But those were different, soviet times. In today’s realities, such construction tempo could be considered miraculous. 

Football experts are sure – this pitch would be perfect for the world’s best teams. If, of course, it would have artificial grass. Then the stadium would suit UEFA’s standards, and FC “Zenit” would be able to play Champions League matches there. 

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “The technology of Swiss engineers is plain and simple. From these units they’re assembling the stands, the roof and the facilities – just like an erector set. Just like in Vancouver”

Situation there, by the way, greatly resembles that in St. Petersburg. While the team was waiting for the main stadium to be built, it asked for a quick construction of an auxiliary venue. In 3 months, more than 20000 fans were able to support their team.

Similar venues for 15-25 thousand spectators exist in Libya and Germany. These are not beautiful stadia. They look more like humble abodes among elite skyscrapers.

But the very same company proved – give us time and you’ll see something totally different. In 2012, in Baku, using the same units it assembled a multifunctional venue to host the Eurovision song contest. With vibrant lighting and peculiar outlook.

It is yet hard to say what stadium is in FC “Zenit’s” plan. Having exploded info space – along with the construction company – they have embarked on a silent defense.

No comments are made, and even evidence of potential agreement was removed from websites. For growing “Zenit” talents from the “Nevskiy Front” school this means they can get more space from the available 25 hectares. The center’s building in the Frunzenskiy district will soon be demolished – the area is due for a renovation. But the city’s officials promised that they wont deprive young footballers of their footballing residence.

Alexander Alekhanov, president of the “Nevskiy front” football school: “We want it to be a youth football school with 4 pitches, medical facilities and fitness halls”

This strip of land at the south of the city has been existing under the “only for sports needs” label for a few years now. But it may be just the platform which would allow St. Petersburg to catch up with Moscow in terms of football infrastructure. 

St. Petersburg has been lagging behind the capital ever since the Leningrad times. But it usually appealed to larger scales. The Kirov Stadium, built in 1950, still holds the nationwide attendance record. Before wooden benches had been replaced by plastic seats, it could accommodate 110 thousand fans. And that’s in those years when fans were enjoying more success than the team they supported.

The fans “sacred ground” must remain FC “Zenit’s” center of footballing force – says vice-governor Marat Oganesyan. He starts every weekend with a trip to the new arena at the Krestovskiy. 
That is why Oganesyan can now freely speak of the work’s quality and schedule – the stadium should be completed in 2,5 years. Besides, the blue-and-whites haven’t confirmed their interest to play in Kupchino.

Marat Oganesyan, vice-governor of St. Petersburg: “So far we’ve had no such statements, and, as far as I know, such are not planned. In any case, the city is interested in construction of sports venues. We will not object against building a module stadium of training grounds, but will discuss the conditions. So that the venue could be used for social needs. But this, definitely, would not be FC “Zenit’s” primary arena”.

The arena at the Krestovskiy is gradually losing its scandalous “the most” label. It is no longer the country’s most expensive stadium. The Moscow Dinamo stadium will be several billion rubles more expensive.

And compared to Brazilian venues, it doesn’t look like a very lengthy project. In the land of Pele and Ronaldo, where football is seen as religion, most of the World Cup venues haven’t been completed – and that’s six months before the event would kick off. When the arena at the Krestovskiy will be completed, it may be used in St. Petersburg Olympic marathon.

Georgiy Poltavchenko, governor of St. Petersburg: “We may make a bid to host the 2024 or 2028 Olympic Games – hardly we could have a chance to do so earlier. Considering how much is being done in the city, and how much is yet to be done in development of infrastructure. We actually need to think on preparing documents for the bid”.

On a meeting with St. Petersburg’s Olympians, the governor voiced something long dreamt of. St. Petersburg’s chances are not so slim. In  the times when winter Olympic are held in sub-tropics, why not holding Summer Games in the Northern Capital. Besides, if FC “Zenit” decides against building its own stadium, Kupchino could lose its controversial fame and become St. Petersburg’s Olympic village.