25 November 2013
The Russian government has put out a $612m tender toÂ reconstruct Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, set to be the venue forÂ the 2018 World Cup football final.
Work has already begun toÂ rip out theÂ seats atÂ the arena, which was built in 1956.
It will be hollowed out andÂ furnished with new stands, according to news agency RIA Novosti, via The Moscow Times. Only theÂ outer shell is toÂ be kept intact.
TheÂ winning contractor, toÂ be announced 12 December, will have three and a half years toÂ complete all necessary work.
Russia’s World Cup organisers initially put theÂ costs ofÂ the refurbishment atÂ $800m, but they later announced aÂ more frugal approach. Original plans included aÂ final capacity of 90,000 spectators.
TheÂ tender has been posted onÂ the government’s procurement website, zakupki.gov.ru.
Luzhniki’s last major event inÂ its current form was August’s World Athletics Championships, while theÂ last football match played there was aÂ league game inÂ May.
TheÂ stadium hosted athletics atÂ the 1980 Summer Olympics andÂ is best known inÂ footballing circles forÂ holding theÂ 2008 Champions League final, when Manchester United beat Chelsea onÂ penalties after extra time finished 1-1.
Luzhniki stadium during the 1980 Summer Olympics (Vladimir Rodionov/Wikimedia)
Russia’s programme to deliver infrastructure for the FIFA World Cup covers more than 300 facilities, including ICT infrastructure, energy supply systems, healthcare and communal infrastructure, according to FIFA.
In June 2013 the Russian parliament passed a law on the FIFA World Cup preparations that provides a legal basis for government guarantees concerning the work.
Also in June the first of the tournament’s 12 stadiums came on stream, in Kazan. It was expected to be hosting its first football matches by this month, November.
Construction work is expected to be completed at another 2018 arena, the "Fisht" Olympic stadium in Sochi. Spartak Moscow’s arena will be opening its doors to football fans by the summer of 2014, according to FIFA.
"I’m very pleased with the speed of the preparations that we’re seeing at the moment in Russia," FIFA Secretary General JérÃ´me Valcke said at a meeting with the Russian organising committee on 29 October.
"FIFA currently has three World Cups on its agenda, and since the 2014 tournament in Brazil is just around the corner, it’s really important for us that Russia isn’t waiting until the whole world starts looking ahead to 2018, but is responsibly pressing on in all the key areas."