MOSCOW, November 20 (R-Sport) – The Russian government has put out a 20 billion rubles ($612 million) tender to reconstruct Moscow's iconic Luzhniki Stadium, the venue for the 2018 World Cup football final.
Work has already begun to rip out the seats at the hulking arena, which will be hollowed out and furnished with new stands. Only the outer shell is to be kept intact.
The winning contractor, to be announced on December 12, will have 3 1/2 years to complete all necessary work. The World Cup organizers had initially put the costs of the refurbishment at $800 million, though that was before they announced a more frugal approach to building for the tournament.
The tender is posted on the government's procurement website zakupki.gov.ru.
The original plans for the new stadium included a final capacity of 90,000 spectators, but the budget was reduced and world governing body FIFA approved new designs with the more modest total. There are to be 300 places for disabled people.
Luzhniki’s last major event in its current form was August’s world athletics championships, while the last football match played there was a league game in May.
The stadium hosted athletics at the 1980 Summer Olympics and is best known in footballing circles for holding the 2008 Champions League final, when Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties after extra time finished 1-1.
It will not be used for the 2017 Confederations Cup, which will be staged in new stadiums belonging to Zenit St. Petersburg and Spartak Moscow, the Kazan Arena and Sochi's Fisht Olympic Stadium.
Luzhniki, built in 1956 and known as Lenin Stadium until the Soviet breakup, will host the opening match, a semifinal and the final of the 2018 World Cup.
It is one of 12 stadiums in 11 cities set to stage the championships. All are to be built from scratch or undergo major refurbishment.