Sergei Sobyanin interviewed by Vesti-Moskva programme of Rossiya-1 television channel

27 July 2014

Correspondent: Good afternoon, Mr Sobyanin, thank you very much for finding enough time for this interview, all the more so as TV audiences are, of course, extremely interested in the Luzhniki project. I suggest that we take a short walk. After this stadium is rebuilt, Moscow will receive a unique sport facility meeting the most stringent modern international requirements in sport event. This, of course, is a long-term prospect. Mr Sobyanin, could you tell us about the status of the project, and whether everything is going as planned?

Sergei Sobyanin: You can see what is happening at the stadium. The grandstands have been dismantled, and the foundation work for the grandstands and the entire stadium is underway. This is always the most difficult part of any construction project. At the start of any project like this, we make all the necessary design decisions and then draft the plans. From now on, all we have to do is monitor the schedule. The foundation should be completed by September, and the builders should start assembling the grandstands in late September. We are currently one month ahead of schedule, and we are maintaining a good pace. As a rule, the start of the excavation work and the installation of the utility mains are delayed. But, in this case the situation is completely different. We began construction faster than planned, and this will allow us to complete the stadium on time, that is in 2017.

Correspondent: Mr Sobyanin, I understand you made the decision to preserve the historical image of Luzhniki Stadium whose façade will be preserved and restored. Apart from the stadium exterior, what will you build inside? How will the arena change, what will the grandstands be like, and what are the football field specifications?

Sergei Sobyanin: The decision to preserve the historical façade of the building was the most difficult one. You see, FIFA wanted us to install grandstands for about 90,000 spectators, but the current stadium can’t hold that many people. We would have basically had to tear down the whole stadium. But to be frank, I would never have done this because this historical building symbolises the Russian Olympic movement. The people of Moscow and tourists have become used to it. This facility is part of Moscow. Therefore we conducted long and difficult talks with FIFA, and we eventually obtained consent to reduce the number of seats. So we have preserved all the façades

At the same time, everything else will be brand-new. Right now, we’re walking towards the edge of the grandstand area where the football field will begin. The football field will be located in direct proximity to the grandstands. This is a standard requirement for every football field. The field itself will be covered with natural turf. This means that we need to implement some very sophisticated engineering solutions so the grass can grow all year, and so that it can be maintained in quality condition. This means that we will have to heat the field, to water the turf, to install HVAC systems, and to take special care of it, etc.

Correspondent: It’s hard to imagine that so much work is needed to have genuine turf on the field.

Sergei Sobyanin: Yes, there’s a lot of work. But turf is not the only thing that matters. The space beneath the grandstands will expand by almost 100%, and it will house modern and convenient facilities, including locker rooms for the football players, exercise equipment, gyms, conference halls, etc. In short, everything needed for holding international competitions will be located down there. The grandstands will also be upgraded, and they’ll feature a number of VIP seats, including those for the media and for guests attending all kinds of sport events. Moreover, about 300 seats will be reserved for people with disabilities and wheelchair users. This is also important. We’ll certainly meet this international requirement. And the roof cornice itself will be extended by 11 metres in order to protect the field and spectators from precipitation. The glass panels will be removed and replaced with the most advanced materials to let more light in.

Correspondent: Mr Sobyanin, the situation with the stadium is more or less clear, but there are also issues of infrastructure support. What infrastructure components are located here? And will the city be able to make this facility accessible to public transit? I think this question is also important.

Sergei Sobyanin: As for other structures, apart from the stadium, we’ll have to build an international broadcasting centre and service centres. Several other buildings, to be put up around the stadium, will make it possible to hold the World Cup events. Moreover, we have to build seven more football fields and training facilities that will eventually be used by sport schools and anyone who wants to play football.

All the utility mains will be replaced at Luzhniki, and this is a lot of unseen, unobtrusive but essential work. As for the municipal infrastructure, the city is ready to host any championship today. Do you remember how last year’s athletics championship went? That event had more guests and national delegations than are expected for the FIFA World Cup. The city dealt with that event, and no one really noticed how it went. Nevertheless, considering the fact that the city is picking up momentum in every infrastructure sector, including the utilities, transport and social infrastructure components, it will, of course, be better prepared. I’m including the Smaller Moscow Belt Railway. By the way, the Luzhniki transit hub will be established there, and it will allow metro passengers to use surface transit. We’ll continue to resurface the motorways, including the Volokolamskoye Motorway where the second stadium will be located. And we’ll continue to provide Moscow’s medical clinics and hospitals with new equipment and cutting-edge technology. We’ll continue to move ahead, just like today. But, of course, this will further the development of the entire infrastructure, including the hotel, tourist, healthcare and other infrastructure. Of course, the city will be better prepared than it is today.

Correspondent: Mr Sobyanin, you mentioned the 2018 FIFA World Cup. And of course I can’t help asking: What other major projects will be completed in Moscow by 2018?

Sergei Sobyanin: Aside from Luzhniki Stadium, Spartak Stadium is our second major facility. This is the first major city project in Moscow’s history to be completely financed by private investors. The stadium is almost complete, and I believe that it will be opened in late August. The Spartak metro station, due to be built near the stadium, will also open in the near future. So all the major facilities that would give us reason for concern are either being completed or, as is the case with Luzhniki, they are being rebuilt on schedule.

Correspondent: Thank you very much for this interview.

Sergei Sobyanin: Thank you.

Sourse: The website of the Mayor and the Government of Moscow

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