The governor of Rostov-on-Don has assured fans there will be no issue with attendance at the city’s new Rostov Arena, which has been purpose-built for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The 45,000-seater arena is one of 12 host stadiums for next summer’s World Cup and will host five matches at the tournament, which will be held from June 14 to July 15.
Before the tournament, the stadium will be used as the home ground of the city’s football team, Rostov FC, who play in the Russian Premier League, the country’s top flight.
Rostov FC’s current stadium – Stadion Olimp-2 – holds just over 15,000, and concerns have been raised over whether the team can fill a stadium with 30,000 extra seats. But these fears have been dismissed by the Rostov region governor, Vasily Golubev.
“Rostov is a football town. We have a great footballing history,” Golubev said, TASS reported. “Even from the time of the victories of the USSR in the 1960 European Championship, when the winning goal was scored by our footballer Viktor Ponedelnik.
“All those years the football in Rostov – it is a certain component created that constantly excites people of different generations. So the question of attendances does not really worry me.
“We are working out a separate program on filling the stadium not just during the World Cup, but after the tournament.
“There is a program and we are working on it, so that children up to 13 years old accompanied by parents will be invited to attend Russian Premier League matches at the new arena for free.”
The contracted deadline for work to be completed on Rostov Arena is December 25, 2017, but officials say that the first match could take place ahead of schedule, as early as November.
In March, Rostov FC hosted Manchester United in the quarter-final of the Europa League at their current Olimp-2 ground in the Southern Russian city by the River Don, which was the scene for a warm welcome of blankets for the traveling support.
United returned the favor by inviting Rostov World Cup 2018 ambassador Victoria Lopyreva to the Reds’ 4-0 destruction of West Ham on the opening day of the English Premier League season at Old Trafford, which went down extremely well with home fans.