Russia spent billions on the most expensive World Cup ever -- take a tour of the stunning stadiums

The 2018 World Cup has officially kicked off. Soccer teams from Saudi Arabia and Russia – the tournament’s host country – play the first match Thursday morning.

In preparation for the games, Russia has devoted more than $US2.8 billion toward building and updating 12 massive stadiums across 11 cities. The arenas pay tribute to traditional Russian architecture – characterised by sculptural fixtures – while also nodding to Putin-era building design, which have sharp angles and flamboyant patterns.

Take a tour below:


In addition to the $US2.8 billion on the 2018 World Cup stadiums, Russia spent more than $US8 billion on infrastructure projects — like repairs and construction on roads, railway stations, and airports — for the games.

Source: Reuters


The Otkrytie Arena in Moscow

When it opened: September 2014

Cost: $US430 million

Capacity:45,360

Details:In 2010, an architectural council rejected the stadium’s design, because the group thought it was too ordinary. The current, revised design was developed by engineering firm AECOM, London-based architects Sport Concepts, and facade designer Dexter Moren Associates.


The Otkrytie Arena in Moscow

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The Luzhniki stadium in Moscow

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When it opened: 1956

Reconstruction cost: $US410 million

Capacity:80,000

Details: In 2013, the original arena was demolished, but the facade was preserved. Workers then built an entirely new stadium with the old exterior to meet FIFA’s specifications, including 3,000 surveillance cameras.


The Luzhniki stadium in Moscow


The Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod

When it opened: April 2018

Cost: $US287 million

Capacity: 45,000

Details: The stadium’s design uses a palette of white and various blues, colours associated with the Volga region’s plentiful bodies of water. The metal roof weighs over 11,000 tons, giving the arena an overbearing appearance.


The Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod


The Samara Arena in Samara

When it opened: April 2018

Cost: $US320 million

Capacity:40,900

Details:Known as the home of the Soviet aerospace industry, Samara created the rocket that astronaut Yuri Gagarin piloted to become the first man in space in 1961.The design of the city’s new stadium – which resembles a spacecraft – nods to that history.


The Samara Arena in Samara


The Saint-Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg

When it opened: April 2017

Cost: $US1.1 billion

Capacity:64,287

Details: Stretching 260 feet tall, the metal arena was envisioned to look like “a spaceship that has landed on the shores of the Gulf of Finland,” according to architect Kisho Kurosawa. When the venue opened in 2017, it was late and 548% over budget, the Moscow Times reported.


The Saint-Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg

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The Volgograd Arena in Volgograd

When it opened: April 2018

Cost: $US273 million

Capacity:40,479

Details: A monument of a sword-wielding woman called “The Motherland Calls” – which is nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty – sits next to the riverside arena to commemorate the Battle of Stalingrad. At night, the venue lights up.


The Volgograd Arena in Volgograd

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The Kazan Arena in Kazan

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When it opened: July 2013

Cost: $US450 million

Capacity: 45,379

Details:According to the stadium’s architecture firm Populous, the design was inspired by a water-borne flowering plant, a reference to Kazan’s riverscape.


The Kazan Arena in Kazan

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The Ekaterinburg Arena in Yekaterinburg

When it opened: 1957

Reconstruction cost: $US201 million

Capacity:35,000

Details: From 2014 to 2017, the arena was renovated to include accessible seating, modern security systems and video technology, a new turf, extended parking facilities, and more. As you can see in the photo above, the project preserved the venue’s 1950s-era columns – an architectural characteristic that Putin has seemed to favour.


The Ekaterinburg Arena in Yekaterinburg


The Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don

When it opened: May 2018

Cost: $US312 million

Capacity:40,709

Details: Recognised as the first large project built south of the River Don, the arena will supposedly encourage the city’s expansion south.

“Of course it won’t be the only building here. We’re planning to create a whole new center for life in Rostov,” architect Alexey Polyanski told The Voice of Russia.


The Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don


The Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad

When it opened: May 2018

Cost: $US299 million

Capacity:31,484

Details: The stadium is said to resemble a ship, a design that pays homage to the port town of Kaliningrad. Mastlike towers hold up the roof, which features a rectangular opening over the soccer field.


The Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad


The Fisht Stadium in Sochi

When it opened: February 2014

Cost: $US779 million

Capacity:41,220

Details: The roof of the stadium, which looks like a mantaray, splits down the middle.


The Fisht Stadium in Sochi

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The Mordovia Arena in Saransk

When it opened: April 2018

Cost: $US300 million

Capacity: 41,685

Details: The stadium’s design is based on the image of the sun, the primary symbol of ancient myths and legends of the Mordovians, one of Russia’s largest indigenous groups.


The Mordovia Arena in Saransk


The Mordovia Arena in Saransk

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