With Russia hosting this summer’s World Cup, we’ve already taken a look at the cities that will be welcoming visitors and football fans from around the world. From Kaliningrad to Yekaterinburg and in nine cities between them, the Cup will give the world a wonderful look at Russia beyond Moscow. The most intense focus, however, will remain on the matches themselves, and for this reason it’s also worthwhile to point out some of the incredible new stadiums (and renovated ones) Russia has prepared for the event. Looking at them all together it should really be an incredible display of creativity, culture, architecture and engineering.
This is undoubtedly one of the coolest new stadiums being built, largely because its construction has led to the development of an entire small island. Oktyabrsky Island is in the middle of Kaliningrad and will now feature this 35,000-seat stadium and various developments around it.
Saint Petersburg Stadium
Technically this isn’t a new stadium for the Cup, as it hosted some Confederations Cup matches last year. However, it was built for the Cup and is essentially brand new. It’s a gorgeous arena built on Krestovsky Island and slated to host some major matches, including the first semi-final and the play-off for third place thereafter. Looking at the stadium now, it’s easy to imagine it coming across as the most impressive of the bunch on television.
Somewhat like the situation on Oktyabrsky Island in Kaliningrad, Rostov Arena appears to have been designed in part to help build up the city. It’s on the left bank of the Don River, which is expected to become a more vibrant area during and after the Cup. It’ll be yet another sizable arena, with seats for 45,000 fans, and will become the home for FC Rostov after the summer.
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
If you read about the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium being built for the World Cup, it sounds like one of the more intricate and interesting design projects of all. It’s being built at the confluence of the Volka and Oka rivers, with a panoramic view of the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin. It’s also supposed to be inspired by the “water and wind” of the region, with facades that will be lit up in various ways at night to highlight these aspects.
Mordovia Arena (Saransk)
The only new arena that isn’t specifically named for the city it’s being built in, Mordovia Arena is, in name, a tribute to the Mordovian people (who supposedly became unified with Russians 1,000 years before construction started in 2010). It’s another riverside arena, and one that’s been designed with alternating orange, red, and white panels around its oval exterior. While not the most conventionally beautiful of these designs, it’ll certainly stand out.
Volgograd Stadium is being built where Central Stadium once stood, but is a modern improvement in every way. It’s a very airy stadium by the look of things, with plenty of interesting local symbolism built into the walls and facade, and from the side it almost resembles the construction of the famous Bird’s Nest arena Beijing constructed for the 2008 Olympics.
Conceptually, this has to be one of the neatest modern sports arenas in the world. Because the city is best known for supporting the Russia space program, Samara Arena is being built with space-related design themes. And yes, that means it will more or less resemble a gigantic spaceship. It should be one of the more modern designs we see, and it’ll likely be on television a fair bit with showcase matches like Uruguay versus Russia and round of 16 and quarterfinal matches on July 2nd and 7th, respectively.
In one ranking of the best stadiums for this year’s World Cup, Yekaterinburg Arena was referred to as a truly innovative piece of design. This is true in part because of its indoor/outdoor conception. In addition to an open roof (which is fairly standard for Cup stadiums these days), this new stadium will be open at the ends, so that behind each goal there will be a section of seating extending outside of the arena. It should make for a unique atmosphere, in addition to a design that’s visually awesome. The stadium was originally built in the ‘50s, but should be unrecognizably remodeled for the Cup.