On 15 May, a delegation of senior officials from the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Local Organising Committee (LOC) and experts from FIFA paid an inspection visit to Yaroslavl. Situated 280 km from Moscow, the city is a well-known tourist destination – in 2011, it hosted 1.8million tourists.
The delegation, led by Russia 2018 LOC CEO Alexey Sorokin and FIFA’s head of department for the 2014, 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, Jurgen Muller, began its inspection of Yaroslavl with a visit to the Shinnik stadium. The main architectural focus of the reconstruction plan for the stadium, whose capacity will be raised to 45,000, is to create a common space across the south, west, north and east stands by covering them with a single roof. The pitch will be lowered by 4.75 metres, while the athletics track will disappear.
“We were very serious in the way we went about choosing the location for the World Cup stadium. We carried out some sociological research, which showed that most local people favoured the stadium being in the centre of Yaroslavl. That will ensure maximum transport access and convenience. On top of that, Shinnik has a rich football history, and the people of Yaroslavl have been going there to support their team for more than 50 years,” stressed Yaroslavl Region deputy governor Viktor Kostin, as he presented the stadium reconstruction plan.
The inspection continued with a visit to Tunoshna airport, which, by 2018, under current plans, will have a temporary terminal which will be able to handle up to 10,000 passengers at peak times ahead of matches.
The delegation then moved on to one of Yaroslavl’s most picturesque locations, the Strelka, at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl rivers. The area has been designated as a potential fan zone for Russia 2018. Organisers plan to erect several separate concert stages there, as well as giant screens where fans will be able to watch matches during FIFA’s flagship event.
The governor of Yaroslavl Region, Sergey Yastrebov, gave the following assessment of Yaroslavl’s chances of hosting Russia 2018 matches:
“We’ve got some major work to do. Most local people want Yaroslavl to be a Russia 2018 host city. And by working together and pooling our efforts, and with FIFA’s support, we’re ready to work hard to ensure that Yaroslavl is included in the list of host cities. Yaroslavl has experience of planning its millennium celebrations in 2010, and everything that was done at the time is now helping to develop the region’s economy, attract tourists and boost investment. What will be done ahead of the World Cup will take Yaroslavl to a new level, and will serve the city and the region for a long time to come.”
Yaroslavl was the sixth stop on the LOC/FIFA inspection tour. The delegation has already visited Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg, Kaliningrad and Yekaterinburg.