Moscow 1980 Olympic Stadium set to escape demolition

Wednesday, 17 August 2011
By David Gold

Luzhniki_Stadium_panaromic_viewAugust 17 - The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, the centrepiece of the 1980 Olympics and which is set to host the final of the 2018 World Cup, is unlikely to be demolished ahead of the competition despite concerns over the cost of renovating the venue.

Reports had suggested that the ground may have to be torn down and replaced after the 2013 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow because of the potential cost of the renovations required to bring it up to FIFA requirements.

A consultation process is currently taking place, the results of which will determine whether or not the stadium will be demolished or renovated, and a decision is expected at the start of next month.

One of the main problems facing Russian World Cup organisers is that the stadium needs to have a capacity of at least 89,300 to host the World Cup final, which it is intended to, but it can currently only hold 78,400.

The Maracaña Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which is scheduled to host the final of the 2014 Brazil World Cup, faced similar renovations, which have been achieved on a $763.84 million (£467.24 million/€531.88 million) budget.

This is $69.44 million (£42.48 million/€48.35 million) more than that set aside for the Luzhniki for the World Cup.

But architects estimate that it will cost closer to 40 billion rubles (£849.52 million/$1.39 billion/€967.06 million) to bring the stadium up to World Cup standards.

When contacted, the Luzhniki Stadium press office told insidethegames that it has not yet been decided whether the Luzhniki will become solely a football ground or if it will keep its running tracks for athletics use, suggesting that demolition was a real possibility.

But insidethegames understands that those carrying out the consultation process have no intention of proposing such a move, and are likely to suggest that World Cup organisers press on with renovations instead.

The Luzhniki is the only proposed venue for the World Cup which is currently in operation, and has a special place in Russian sport history, having been the main venue for the controversial Moscow Olympics, which, led by the United States, was boycotted by several countries over the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan.

But it will always figure prominently in the history of the Games as it was the stage for the epic duel between Britain's Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett.

Sebastian_Coe_wins_the_Olympic_1500m_Moscow_1980
Ovett won the 800 metres but Coe bounced back to take victory in the 1500m.

Other British winners at those Games included Allan Wells in the 100m and Daley Thompson in the decathlon.

Another significant performance came from Ethiopia's Miruts Yifter, who claimed the 5,000m and 10,000m double.

If it is renovated, rather than demolished, it will be one of just four stadiums to have played a part in both a Summer Olympic Games and World Cup.

It is not the only Russian World Cup stadium with problems, as the Kirov ground in St Petersburg needs to be demolished and replaced by 2018.

And though there have been fewer problems with the Olympic Stadium being built in Sochi, the local football team who were due to move into that stadium recently went bankrupt, threatening the legacy in the city following both the 2014 Winter Games and the 2018 World Cup.

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