ST. PETERSBURG, April 2 (R-Sport) - The Russian federal government has refused to provide any future funding for the construction of Zenit St. Petersburg’s delayed and over-budget new stadium, a lawmaker in Russia’s second-largest city said Tuesday.
The arena, which will host a World Cup 2018 semifinal, was originally supposed to open in 2008 but the completion date has been repeatedly pushed back as costs have swollen to $1.1 billion.
“According to the results of the study of this question, a consolidated position has been put forward by the relevant federal executive authorities on the lack of opportunities to finance the facility in question from federal budget funds,” St. Petersburg city parliament deputy Boris Vishnevsky said, citing what he said was a written answer from federal construction chief Alexei Uvarov.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in September that the drawn-out construction of the stadium “looks disgraceful” and said it would receive no more cash grants from the government, only loans. It was not immediately clear whether Uvarov’s comments preclude the possibility of federal loans to the project in future.
Vishnevsky also said he had asked the government whether state gas company Gazprom, which owns Zenit, could provide funding, but did not mention what, if any, answer Uvarov had provided.
The stadium’s capacity will be 68,000, increased from the original figure of 62,000 to fit FIFA’s plans for the World Cup.
Last week, the arena’s cost estimate was reduced to $1.1 billion from $1.3 billion by the St. Petersburg city construction committee, which did not offer an explanation for the change.
St. Petersburg auditors have uncovered several multi-million-dollar spending violations tied to the stadium, according to a report released by Russia's Audit Chamber on Monday.
Between 2006 and 2012, St. Petersburg authorities spent $4.9 million on what the report calls “unnecessary costs,” including dismantling building fixtures that had already been installed, and $9.2 million to purchase 63,000 seats UEFA later deemed unfit for use.
Russia’s World Cup organizing committee chief Alexei Sorokin has previously said Zenit’s stadium should be open by 2014, but club officials have said the completion date is almost certain to be pushed back yet again.