Russia takes cup to dizzying heights

29 November 2017 - 07:31 By AFP
SPORTING VERTIGO Yekaterinburg Arena in the Russian Urals is using two 48m-high temporary, open-air stands to boost its capacity to 35000 to accommodate extra football fans for next year's soccer World Cup. Yekaterinburg is one of 12 Russian cities hosting the event.
SPORTING VERTIGO Yekaterinburg Arena in the Russian Urals is using two 48m-high temporary, open-air stands to boost its capacity to 35000 to accommodate extra football fans for next year's soccer World Cup. Yekaterinburg is one of 12 Russian cities hosting the event.
Image: AFP Photo

How does it feel to be on the outside looking in? Football fans visiting Yekaterinburg in the Russian Urals for the 2018 World Cup will find out when they get seated in one of two temporary stands that fill empty plots of land next to the arena.

Openings at each goal end of the stadium's facade offer a remote view of the pitch. Spectators on the extensions' uppermost rows will stare out at the outer edge of the refurbished Yekaterinburg Arena's circular roof.

The UK's The Guardian newspaper suggested that the entire ensemble might have come from "outer space". USA Today screamed that it "couldn't look any scarier".

All of which has left the construction company behind the 42m-tall extensions bemused.

"This is a typical solution for sport facilities built for major international competitions," Sinara Development director-general Timur Ufimtsev said.

"In addition, you can see a beautiful panoramic view of Yekaterinburg since the stadium is in a central part of the city."

He said the seating was protected by "tall railings" to make sure no one fell off.

The additions will turn Yekaterinburg Arena into a 35000-seater, which will shrink back down to 23000 once the stands have been dismantled and the tourists have all gone home.

The world media's sceptical gaze fell on the 60-year-old stadium once it was selected as the easternmost venue of the 12 hosting the June 14 to July 15 event.

The Kremlin wanted to show off Russia's cultural diversity and settled on Yekaterinburg - the mining capital of the tsars, in which the late president Boris Yeltsin built his career.

The unassuming industrial home to almost 1.5million people has a team that played middling football in the Soviet era and won promotion to the Russian Premier League in 2013.

Sinara Development said it also could not simply rebuild the entire arena because it was listed as a cultural heritage site.

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