How are 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ preparations going in Saransk, the smallest of the competition's Host Cities? In order to answer this question, a visiting commission went to the Mordovian capital on Friday 26 August, headed by the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Igor Shuvalov. The commission also included Vitaly Mutko, Russia's Minister for Sport and the Chairman of the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee (LOC), as well as the CEO of the LOC, Alexey Sorokin.
The commission visited the site of the new 45,000 capacity Mordovia Arena, which in less than two years is set to host World Cup games. The stadium is currently under construction and already taking real shape. All civil engineering works, to be completed by the end of 2017, are on schedule; in-situ concreting is nearly completed and erection of temporary supporting structures is in progress. Mechanical and electrical work was started ahead of schedule, while site improvement work is also in progress.
The new international airport in Saransk, including the renovated runway, new airside and the new terminal building, will be commissioned by the end of 2017. "The location for the new airport terminal was a very good choice, I am sure that passengers will appreciate it," said Shuvalov. "All necessary procedures are now complete; the renovation contractor for the new runway will start working in the very near future. The engineering contractor for the temporary international flights terminal in Saransk has been defined too".
The First Deputy Prime Minister and other members of the commission visited the FIFA World Cup Volunteers Centre, which is already recruiting volunteers for FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and 2018 World Cup. The commission also examined a venue that is expected to attract many local and international football fans during the World Cup - the FIFA Fan Fest venue near Cathedral Square and Victory square, in addition to inspecting traffic interchanges and hotel complexes.
LOC Chairman and Minister for Sport Mutko also highlighted "a very good FIFA World Cup legacy program in Saransk", noting that "training pitches will be handed over to children's sports schools, while the Mordovia Arena won’t be just a football stadium but will also have space for a modern wellness and fitness centre. Saransk is already home to Mordovia's strong football heritage, including in youth football, and we must support and develop that." Mutko also added that before 2018, an indoor arena for football and athletics will be commissioned, as well as a multi-sports arena.
"Going on what we've seen on this inspection, we've been impressed," stated Shuvalov on conclusion of the visit to Saransk. He also made note of the compact and convenient nature of the Mordovian capital: "Saransk isn’t a big city but has every appearance of a very comfortable European town, featuring a modern infrastructure and wonderful road network. Obviously, this is the fruit of many years' work, but this is also indicative of the attitude of its citizens. We believe that those people who will come to Saransk to experience the 2018 World Cup will be satisfied."