16:24 GMT +3 hours23 November 2014
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Politician Denies Public to Part-Fund World Cup Arena

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(updated 18:28 28.10.2014)
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The St. Petersburg government denied speculation Wednesday that part of the $1.3 billion cost of a World Cup stadium currently under construction would come from public donations.

The St. Petersburg government denied speculation Wednesday that part of the $1.3 billion cost of a World Cup stadium currently under construction would come from public donations.

The arena, which will host a World Cup 2018 semifinal and Zenit St. Petersburg games, was due to open in 2008 but has suffered repeated delays and ever-rising costs, a process that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said last month “looks disgraceful.”

St. Petersburg residents are welcome to help with the construction, city governor Georgy Poltavchenko told local television last week, but denied Wednesday he had been seeking financial assistance from locals.

“It’s completely possible there’ll be a proposal to the inhabitants of our city, especially football-lovers, to take part in some work on the stadium," he said.

The governor said Wednesday this had not been an appeal for donations, but that he instead wanted locals to carry out construction work on the site for free.

“I was talking about, probably, that it’s right to take part in building the stadium, the issue is voluntary participation in the building work itself,” he said.

“We won’t be collecting money from anyone at all, obviously.”

The cost of the stadium was increased by $344 million when the latest estimate from the city government was released last week.

Poltavchenko said the figure could still change after a federal agency that regulates major infrastructure projects analyses the build.

The stadium’s capacity will be 68,000, increased from the original figure of 62,000 to fit FIFA’s plans for the World Cup.

The completion date is set for 2014, Alexei Sorokin, the head of Russia’s World Cup organizing committee has said, although some reports have claimed the project may only be completed in 2017.

The stadium was designed to look like a spaceship by renowned Japanese architect Kisho Kurosawa, who died in 2007.