Going Down (Maybe)

A Russian World Cup stadium could sink into a swamp

Early photo of the Kaliningrad Arena being constructed for the FIFA World Cup 2018 on a well known floodplain. (A. Savin/Wikimedia Commons)

Russia spent over $14 billion to host the FIFA World Cup last July and August, with the Kaliningrad Arena itself costing about $300 million. However, only a year after hosting the games, the building has faced numerous issues due to the fact that the stadium was built on previously unused wetlands in a flood plain, with soil not equipped to handle such a large structure. 

Despite being the most expensive soccer competition in history, the building has faced charges of corruption and shoddy work. According to RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, Aleksei Moisa, the director of the municipal firm in charge of stadium maintenance, Gidrotekhnik, expressed concern for the sewage and draining systems at a city hall meeting on September 10, and that others have noted that heavy rains will cause flooding that could possibly cause the stadium to sink into the swamp. 



While neglect after their intended purpose is fulfilled is nothing new to stadiums hosting large sporting events (the site of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is already abandoned), the Kaliningrad Arena faced controversy from the start. Designed specifically for the World Cup, the building was completed in March 2018, just months before the start of the games. The company in charge of the stadium’s design soon after declared bankruptcy. 

According to Aras Agalarov, chief of Crocus Group, the general contractor for the stadium, the foundation was supposed to be bolstered up with sand; however, only half of what was required (and a lower quality product) was used. This news was followed by the arrests of the former regional minister for construction, Amir Kushkhov, and Sergei Trubinskiy, a regional deputy director in charge of construction control, and Khachim Eristov, a senior manager at GlobalElektroService, a subsidiary of the company Summa, who had been contracted to do the construction for the foundation. 

Later in March 2018, Ziyavudin Magomedov, a co-owner of Summa, was detained and charged in a case involving a theft of 2.5 billion rubles (39 million dollars) linked to the stadium project. Solomon Ginsburg, a member of the Public Chamber of the Kaliningrad Oblast, said that what he called the “ingenious thievery” surrounding the project was solely rooted in the poor choice of location.

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