Ever since the late 19th century, football has been an integral part of St. Petersburg, the birthplace of Russian football.

Back in 1897, Georgy Dyupperon, captain of the team called St. Petersburg Section of Athletes led his team against the Sports Enthusiasts Section on the drill ground of 1st Cadet Corps. This matchup became the first football battle in Russian history.

St. Petersburg remains in love with football regardless of the times our nation is going through.

Football clubs were mushrooming in Petrograd in the final years of the Russian Empire. Later, during the WWII siege Leningrad hosted the so called game of life, and in the second half of the 20th century Lenin Stadium and Kirov Stadium were always packed.

Today, that love has not died away – FC Zenit has been the local pride for two decades. 10 years ago, St. Petersburg was basking in glory after FC Zenit won UEFA Cup in the spring and UEFA Super Cup. In-between, several Zenit players including Andrey Arshavin sent ripples across the European football scene after getting bronze medals at Euro 2008.

Photo: St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport

 

Today, everything in the city reminds you of football – as your train approaches the Moskovsky Terminal you would see colorful graffiti by Zenit fans, while Pulkovo Airport features official 2018 FIFA World Cup stands. Many bus stations outside of the city carry hospitable banners FIFA – Welcome to Saint-Petersburg – 2018.

It is still chilly March here in St. Petersburg but you can feel the excitement in the air in St. Petersburg set to host seven matches, including one of the semifinals and the third place playoff.

When word spread out in 2010 that Russia will be hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup, many mayors of the host cities-to-be were concerned over the heavy burden of transformations ahead of the tournament. Unlike others, except for Moscow and Kazan, St. Petersburg looked set to match the expectations associated with the world’s major football event.

No wonder since it has been the venue of many big international events and a famed tourist destination. The city infrastructure has been long adapted to welcome huge streams of foreign visitors, unlike, say, Saransk or Nizhny Novgorod.

But the city government has once again proven the sky is the limit. The next years saw massive efforts to turn one of the world’s most scenic places into a perfect marriage of historical legacy and cutting edge technology.

The authorities designed a list of new transport infrastructure items including two new metro stations, Novokrestovskaya and Begovaya (Line 3), which will be launched later in the spring, giving fans easier access to the stadium. Novokrestovskaya Metro Station will be located in the south of Krestovsky Island, in immediate proximity to the stadium that will host World Cup matches.

Credit: A.Savin. Aerial view of the Yakhtenny Bridge in St. Petersburg.

 

2017 saw the commissioning of the Yakhtenny Bridge, an overpass from the mainland Primorsky District.

The main facility built for the world cup is st. petersburg stadium on krestovsky island.

Despite widespread skepticism and daunting technical challenges, the stadium was finally put into operation last year. You are struck with awe right as you quit Krestovsky Island metro station, just a couple of kilometers from the stadium. The road to the venue goes through the most broad alley of the local park offering a stunning view of the arena.

St. Petersburg Stadium looks like a high-tech spaceship out of a Hollywood movie that is ready to take fans to the Football planet. The stadium’s historical part – it replaced Kirov Stadium – is the first thing that fans would see as they move closer to the entrance.

Its interior is as jaw-dropping: it innovative design stands out against all other new super stadiums, especially by Russian standards. It boasts a folding roof that protects both the players and fans from precipitation and makes it much warmer inside, as well as a retractable pitch.

Credit: Rustam Sabirov

The stadium matches all the latest requirements, including stands proximity to the pitch, excellent viewing ability from any sector, high quality acoustics and convenient seats. It features dark and light blue and white patterns, the official colours of FC Zenit.

It got its first test run during the 2017 Confederations Cup. The stadium and its staff rose to the occasion during the final between Germany and Chile.

Those football fans who come to St. Petersburg without a ticket will be able to watch the game outside the stadium walls.

FIFA FAN FEST area will offer a great platform where fans would be able to cheer for their team.

Konyushennaya Square, in the heart of the historical city center, directly next to the city´s main sights – the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Hermitage museum and Palace square, – will be the venue for the FIFA Fan Fest in the city. The square took its name from the Main Imperial Stables, which facade forms the appearance of the area at the present day.

Credit: Anna Meyer / FC Zenit, 2017, St. Petersburg.

 

St. Petersburg’s museums are always prepared to host foreign guests.

the city’s museums designed special tours for world cup visitors to enjoy russian culture and art.

Most of the museums and galleries will hire extra staff that speaks the languages of the countries whose teams are coming for the World Cup.

Ekaterina Podkolzina, Rustam Sabirov