This Soviet-era stadium had to be completely redesigned to host the FIFA World Cup

Built during the Soviet heyday in 1957, the Yekaterina Arena will be one of the last ready for the World Cup to begin.

by Mikhail Galustov and Angad Singh
Jun 14 2018, 2:42pm

The World Cup's 64 matches will be hosted in 12 stadiums across Russia, including one historic Soviet-era stadium that was not originally designed to accommodate 21st century soccer fans: The Yekaterinburg Arena.

Constructed during the Soviet heyday in 1957, the stadium seats 23,000 people — falling about 12,000 seats short of FIFA’s requirements. So in 2014, chief architect Oleg Gak was tasked with rebuilding the arena with one big caveat: He had to do so while preserving the arena’s unique Soviet architecture.

“FIFA wanted specific kinds of stands that could hold 35,000 people," Gak told VICE News. "So the new stadium was built around the old protected walls.”

Gak’s team decided to open the stadium's perimeter and build temporary grandstands. The expanded seating puts approximately 12,000 fans outside the stadium walls — but their view of the field should be uncompromised.

“We as designers made plans for the future, assuming the grandstands would go away, and the facade would be closed off,” said Gak.

The Yekaterinburg arena will host its first match, Egypt versus Uruguay, on June 15 at 17:00 local time.