Straw Zenit Arena built in Stavropol Krai

Straw Zenit Arena built in Stavropol Krai Photo: Godot13

In order to attract attention to numerous problems around the construction of the St Petersburg Stadium, a farmer from Stavropol Krai created a straw replica of Zenit Arena. While the real stadium still needs some enhancements, its rural copy made of 4,500 straw bales has already hosted the first football tournament for local teams.

''It's good to get people excited and create a sports atmosphere ahead of the World Cup,'' considers Roman Ponomaryov, a farmer from the village of Krasnoye, Stavropol Krai. Ponomaryov, who is a fan of Zenit St Petersburg football club, modelled his straw stadium in a gentle dig at the problems around the construction of Zenit's new home, says National Post.

The new stadium on St Petersburg's Krestovsky Island was designed by world-famous Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. Zenit Arena intended to host the FIFA World Cup semi-finals has been an object of controversy for its excessive cost, construction delays and building site conditions. At the beginning of the project, its building costs were supposed to amount to 6,7bn rubles, but later they rose to 43bn rubles. The construction process took almost ten years instead of two. ''It seemed pretty strange … how the cost of the stadium and its construction time frame were increasing,'' said the farmer.

Ponomaryov's arena is entirely made of straw (the author used 4,500 straw bales to create it). It took the author precisely five days and around 40,000 rubles ($673 USD) to build it. Last weekend, the stadium with tiered seating for 300 people hosted its first tournament for local teams using modified soccer rules. The farmer plans to organise a World Cup for Straw Football after the harvest. Zenit football club has accepted the project with good humour and offered Ponomaryov a game ticket.

A sign at the entrance reads: ''Not a single ruble was stolen during the construction of this stadium.'' Photo:

Zenit Arena was opened in 2017 for the FIFA Confederations Cup after ten years of construction. In 2018, it will host matches of 2018 FIFA World Cup. The stadium is one of 12 venues Russia supposes to use for the 2018 event. Russia's total World Cup budget is around $11bn. Besides the St Petersburg stadium, several new stadiums were built across the country, including Otkrytiye Arena in Moscow and Kazan Arena. Most of the financing comes from public-private partnerships between the government and major corporations.

By Anna Litvina