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 Samara on 21 June, as part of the process of selecting the cities that will be hosting matches at FIFA’s showpiece event.
Their first stop was the site chosen for the construction of a 45,000-seater stadium, on the stretch of land where the Samara and Volga rivers meet. The design process will be starting in the near future, with construction of the stadium and development of the local area due to begin in late 2013. The new stadium is scheduled to be delivered in late 2016 or early 2017. Aside from the stadium itself, the organisers plan to use the area to build hotels for the teams and training pitches, as well as improving the embankment.
The new arena should become home to Krylya Sovetov Samara, traditionally one of Russia's best-supported football clubs. The stadium may also be used to stage matches involving the Russian national team. A new museum featuring the history of Samara football, conceived by local fans, will be opening not far from the arena.
After seeing the construction site for the FIFA World Cup stadium, the delegation visited Kuybyshev Square, which is being considered as a possible FIFA World Cup Fan Zone. The square covers a massive 17.5 hectares, which makes it one of the largest in Europe. During Russia 2018, organisers plan to install four giant screens and set up covered stands.
In total, a fan festival on Kuybyshev Square could involve up to 70,000 people. Presenting the Fan Zone project to the delegation, Samara’s mayor, Dmitry Azarov, said: “I’m sure that our extensive experience of staging events in our city’s main square will mean that we can make a success of it.”
During a presentation of their blueprint for Samara’s hosting of 2018 FIFA World Cup matches, the region’s top officials outlined their plans to modernise the local transport infrastructure. A planned rail link will connect Samara’s Kurumoch airport with the new football stadium in the area between the two rivers.
The airport complex will be also modernised by 2018: there are plans to build a new terminal, a four-star hotel, a business centre and a multi-storey car park. In addition, there are also plans to use river transport to move fans around Samara.
“Football’s World Cup places a huge burden on a city’s transport system and accommodation options,” said the CEO of the Russia 2018 LOC, Alexey Sorokin. "World Cups attract massive numbers of guests. It’s important for us to ready the infrastructure to withstand this sort of pressure. That’s something which we’re paying attention to in all the cities."
“The most important thing for Samara is to equip the city and the nearby areas with transport arteries, so that fans can travel quickly to the airport and the stadium, and around the city,” Samara Region’s governor, Nikolay Merkushkin, told the delegation as he summed up the visit. “That’s the most expensive and complex aspect of this issue. Overall, I hope that Samara will definitely get the chance to host matches at Russia 2018.”