Saint Petersburg: scandalous stadium, white nights and roof tours

Matches

Saint Petersburg or, more precisely, its new namesake stadium will host four group stage matches. Two of them probably can be called top – Russia vs Egypt (it is interesting for Russians for understandable reasons and for the rest of the world, it will be curious to watch what best forward of the English Premier League Mohamed Salah can do without his Liverpool mates' support; the game will be on 19 June) and Nigeria vs Argentina (26 June). The match of Brazil and Costa Rica (22 June) will be less interesting in the world, and the first Petersburg match Morocco and Iran (15 June) will be interesting locally.

The city will host another three play-off matches – 1/8 finals, one semi-final and a third-place match. Group F winner will come to play the 1/8 finals (highly likely Germany) and the runner-up of Group E (highly likely not Brazil but somebody of the remaining three teams – Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia, difficult to foresee now).

Stadium

The most famous Russian delayed construction, which opened in April 2017 in place of the former S. M. Kirov stadium, turned out to be too expensive in the end: it cost 43bn rubles, according to the official estimate, and 48-50bn rubles, according to journalists' estimates. Its capacity is 56,200 people. It will rise to 68,700 during the world championship. So the arena's capacity was 765,000 rubles per seat (if we trust the official estimate). For comparison, one seat at Kazan Arena, UEFA's highest fourth category stadium, cost twice cheaper – 317,000 rubles. Undoubtedly, rolling pitch and removable roof of the stadium seriously raised the price of the project.

The stadium was projected as early as 2006 by winner of an international competition Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. The latter chose an exterior that is quite traditional for the 2000s. What's more, we should remind the construction was too lasting that building doesn't look like an extra-terrestrial object by 2018. Especially in comparison with many new (or reconstructed) world stadiums, for instance, in Manaus (Brazil), Miami (USA), Melbourne (Australia), not to mention textbook cases of modern of stadium construction in Beijing (the National Stadium) and Munich (Allianz Arena).

The construction of the stadium was accompanied by permanent scandals linked with deadlines, rise in cost sheet, change of contractors, ''slave labour'' of workers from North Korea, pitch quality, rolling pitch and roof, etc. But the scandals already left behind. Zenit from Petersburg constantly performs in the arena. Thanks to the increased capacity of the home arena (old Petrovsky used to be its home arena) is in the lead of the Russian championship in terms of attendance.

Stadium stop

However, it's not easy to get the stadium. A tramway reached the Kirov stadium in the past, but this tramline stopped existing a long time ago. To solve the transport problem of fans, it was decided to build Novokrestovsky metro station of Nevsko-Vasileostrovskaya Line by the WC. It is to be launched in late April 2018 in test mode. The name of the station will probably change – its current form is difficult to pronounce for foreigners.

Those who prefer land transport should consider the closest stop to the stadium Krestovsky Island is almost two-kilometre away from it. The buses No. 10, 14, 25 and public taxi No. 131 stop there.

Where to stay

On the day of gimme of Morocco and Iran (15 June), as from early April, booking.com find 1,395 options of accommodation – from hostels for 400-500 rubles to apartments with an unlimited price tag. On the semi-final day, 10 July (it is the most prestigious Petersburg match), as strange as it might sound, there are even more offers – 1,715. Perhaps, the thing is that the middle of June is the height of ''white nights'' and related numerous events and events when a 'usual tourist' goes to Petersburg.

There are enough offers on airbnb. A flat, studio or house will cost a fan 5,819 rubles on average on the semi-final day. The price range is also wide here – one can find ''old apartment in the city center'' (highly likely with pre-revolutionary water pipes and a common WC on the floor) for 1,600 rubles a night and ''luxurious townhouse in the style of Provance in Krestovky'' for 22,500. Or apartments in Primorsk District with no smoking, no animals and parties – for just 200,000 rubles a night.

Sightseeing points

We will notice for our readers from abroad that those white nights are a pleasant bonus to the stay in the northern capital of Russia during the period from the beginning of the championship to the end of June. In fact, Petersburg is often called a ''city of white nights''. Different concerts and festivals are held in the city during this time. Petersburg's main sightseeing points are known to all. In addition, they are so many that wherever you are in this city, you certainly find some.

Among potentially interesting things to do for a fan, we will notice a visit to the biggest beer making factory Baltika (free without degustation), Petrovsky stadium, which was built in the 1924-1925 and designed by football player Aloise Wejwoda (it was rebuilt many times, FC Zenit's home arena in the 1994-2017s) and not always legal and partially extreme tour on Saint Petersburg roofs – you will need comfortable shoes and good physical shape, of course, for it.

Where to eat

Among high cuisine restaurants from the rating of tripadvisor.ru, the lead is held by Percorso (Italian cuisine, average check is 3,500 rubles), Sintoho (Asian cuisine, 3,000) and Europe (European cuisines, 4,500). In the category ''tasty and cheap'', Phali Hinkali (eastern, Georgian cuisines, 700), Pelmenia (diverse cuisine, 550), Dog's Nose Pub (Russian cuisine, 700). The prices are based on 2GIS. Teremok has the biggest number of points among fast food establishments – Russian cuisine, an average check is 190 rubles, McDonald's – American cuisine (250) and KFC – American cuisine (230 rubles).

It goes without saying that Petersburg has unusual cafes and pubs. For instance, 40°C Wash laundry cafe where one can really wash and listen to poets and DJs and have a snack, of course. People say musicians of Rolling Stones and Franz Ferdinand washed clothes here. It will be probably interesting for foreign students to visit the restaurant Soviet Union with a conceptual interior and menu (salad Red October, Morning in the USSR eggs and Hangover Schi).

Highlights/specifics

Petersburg is said to be the most nonmarine city among marine capitals, ''the city that turned its back to the sea''. Perhaps this is why the anthem of Zenit's fans starts with the words ''The City Above Free Neva''.

What's is more, Saint Petersburg/Petrograd/Leningrad is the ''cradle of Russian Revolution'', as it was said in the Soviet era. Actually, that of three revolutions. To know about the latest of them, in October 1917, one should see the cruiser Aurora whose shot it began with. In 2016, the museum of this military ship was subjected to a large-scale repair and update.

By Rustem Shakirov