Kaliningrad Stadium or Arena Baltika was exclusively built for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It is situated in the heart of the west Russian city Kaliningrad on Oktyabrsky Island. Set under a picturesque background, the new arena has become ‘new landmark’ for the largely unexplored area.
Originally designed as the Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena, the two-tier stadium can accommodate 35,212 fans during the mega event, which is the lowest among all the World Cup stadiums in Russia.
After the completion of the World Cup, second-tier side FC Baltika Kaliningrad will use the stadium as their home ground replacing Baltika Stadium and the capacity will be reduced to 25000 after the world cup 2018. The seats were painted in blue-and-white to match Baltika’s colour.
The construction for the new stadium began in September 2015 and finished in March 2018. Paris-based architect Wilmotte & Associés SA designed the stadium that was built on a 22-hectare concrete slab. The stadium has 16 roof blocks with its roof traverse over the stands and has shaped up in a rectangular way over the football pitch.
FC Schalke 04 and FC Baltika were scheduled to play a friendly match on March 2018 to officially inaugurate the Kaliningrad stadium, but it was called off due to inclement weather. Build at a cost of $300 million, the stadium finally hosted its first match on April 11, 2018, when FC Baltika played against Krylia Sovetov in a league match.
Due to wetland grass in the area, it took several months several to finalize the actual location for the project. Initially, the ambitious stadium slated to have a capacity of 45,000 with a retractable roof. But the designing firm went bankrupt in 2013 forcing the constructing authorities to take up simpler plans to finish the project in time.
Meanwhile, such delay and financial crisis increased the cost by 70 per cent and made the stadium the last one to commence construction among all the 11 venues for the World Cup.
FIFA World Cup Matches
The stadium will host four group-league matches in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. On June 16, Croatia will play Nigeria in a Group D encounter. Six days later on June 22, Serbia will take on Switzerland in a Group E clash.
Spain will be up against Morocco in a Group B match on June 25. The arena will witness the clash of two European heavyweights- England and Belgium- in a Group G encounter on June 28.
Once the World Cup ends, the possibility of low attendance looms large over the arena as the home team could not play the top-tier league for two decades. The arena will host several sporting events and concerts. Also, a new residential project with other facilities will be developed around the stadium.
Under the stadium's rectilinear envelope, a steel structure will be bifurcated into two parts after the World Cup so that the arena can host various events. Also, a flat operable roof will be developed. The temporary upper terraces will be razed and the roof will be lowered after the World Cup.