In summer 2018, Kaliningrad can expect a particularly large number of fans from Western Europe due to its location as the most western Host City of the FIFA World Cup™ in Russia.
Situated on the Baltic coast, fans from Poland and Germany will be able to reach Kaliningrad in just a few hours by car. In order to ensure guests and participants at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia have as comfortable and memorable a time as possible in the city, all the necessary infrastructure for hosting such a tournament needs to be properly prepared.
This was the main issue on the agenda for the visit of a high-profile delegation headed up by First Deputy Prime Minister and First Deputy Chairman of the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee (LOC) Supervisory Board Igor Shuvalov. He was flanked by LOC Chairman Vitaly Mutko and CEO Alexey Sorokin on the trip to Kaliningrad.
The inspections of infrastructure facilities began in Khrabrovo Airport, where a new passenger terminal is being built ahead of Russia 2018. It will be opened by the end of 2017 and work is currently being undertaken to modernise the take-off and landing strip.
A key stop on the delegation's visit was their tour of the building site for Kaliningrad Stadium on Oktyabrsky Island in the centre of the city. During the inspection of the venue under construction, Shuvalov stressed the stadium's role for the future of Kaliningrad.
“The city is changing,” the First Deputy Prime Minister announced. “Regional authorities made the right decision on the stadium's location. Oktyabrsky Island will give the citizens of Kaliningrad more opportunities for urban development.”
Simultaneously with the modern arena, a complex system of bridges and junctions are springing up that will connect the island with the rest of Kaliningrad. As for the stadium itself, it will have a capacity of 35,000 and work will be completed by the end of next year. The reinforced-concrete foundations have almost all been laid, the metal structure of the main body is being finished off and the constructors have begun erecting the reinforced-concrete structures above ground level.
The delegation also visited the main square next to House of Soviets, where the Fan Fest will be held for the World Cup. Traditionally, the main square is where mass cultural events are hosted in the city and you can easily access it on public transport. There are plans to set up a special shuttle-bus service from the airport to the square in 2018. Here spectators will be able to watch live matches on a high-quality large screen, the like of which has never been seen in the regional capital before.
Five hotel facilities are being built in Kaliningrad in advance of the World Cup in order to increase the city's accommodation capacity. Russian Minister of Sport and LOC Chairman Vitaly Mutko acknowledged that neither the federal government nor the LOC had any doubts surrounding the region's preparations for Russia 2018.
“Everything is going according to schedule in Kaliningrad,” said Mutko. “In general we are satisfied with the progress of World Cup preparations in the region. Hotels are being built in accordance with the time-frames, designs of training facilities have passed the test stages and contractors have been appointed.
“Construction of the stadium is going ahead at a healthy rate. Central heating will be introduced to the arena in winter and then the finishing touches will start being applied. Next year we will install the pitch. The governor's team must carry out their preparatory work at the same speed. We have nothing to be concerned about.”
“We won't let anyone down – everything will be finished on time,” confirmed the governor of the Kaliningrad Oblast Nikolay Tsukanov. “We will try to make every facility top quality and the hospitality industry will be of the highest standard.”