Manuel Veth –
Dinamo Moscow’s stadium project, known as the VTB Arena, continues to be a never-ending story. Construction at the new Central Dinamo Stadium began in 2008 when the old stadium was demolished. Then in 2011 building on the new VTB Arena, after Dinamo Moscow’s main sponsor, started in earnest.
What followed, however, was a construction nightmare that would last more than seven years. Initially, the new VTB Arena, which in truth is a stadium complex that houses both a football stadium with 26,319 seats and a hockey arena with up to 13,000 seats, was supposed to become a venue for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The story, however, would not be that simple. Back when Russia was awarded the tournament the regional government was rumoured to have made a deal with the different owners of the major football clubs. The owner to get the stadium done first would also earn the right to host World Cup games at their facility.
Ultimately, Spartak owner Leonid Fedun was the quickest of the mark winning the sort of sweepstake that can be found on Doxxbet. The club’s Otkritie Arena on the former Tushino airfield was the first stadium constructed and opened its doors in 2014. With 44,190 seats the arena was ideal for World Cup games and served as a World Cup stadium throughout the tournament.
With Spartak having completed the construction of their arena plans to finish the new Dinamo stadium were slowed down. Furthermore, ownership problems and Dinamo Moscow’s first ever relegation from the top flight in 2016 also caused problems. The football team, in particular, caused major concern.
Stadium construction was put on hold after Dinamo’s FFP ban
Dinamo were banned from UEFA competitions in 2015 following lack of compliance with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations. As a result, the owner at the time, VTB, offloaded the club and only remained a sponsor. What followed was two years of uncertainty in which the club was close to financial collapse.
In 2017 the Futbolgrad Network visited the construction side of the VTB Arena. At the time the club was playing in the suburb of Khimki. Although a part of the Moscow metropolitan area Khimki Arena, in general, is a difficult place to access and the club’s identity struggled even after the club returned to the Russian Premier Liga in the summer of 2017.
During this time the club was officially owned by the Dynamo Society, the membership club that also operated the team during the time of the Soviet Union. Overall, a complicated construct. The move was supposed to allow the club to become financially viable as VTB was no longer both the owner and sponsor of the club but simply the sponsor, which is an essential requirement in to fulfil FFP regulations — UEFA considers money handed over by the owner as debts rather than income.
It was a deal that was complicated to follow and ultimately did not change much in terms of who was in charge of the club. Overall, Dinamo Moscow remained dependent on VTB, even when the Dinamo Sports Society officially operated the club.
Meanwhile, construction on the stadium continued, and after changes in management, the club finally announced that the new facility would be finished in early 2019 — three years after the initial opening date, which was scheduled for 2016. For Dinamo fans, the wait could ultimately prove to be worth it.
Both the VTB Arena – Dinamo Central Stadium and the VTB Indoor Arena, where the hockey team will play, are stunning facilities. The architect, Erick van Egeraat, managed to both preserve the historic facade of the original stadium but also includes futuristic elements that make it appear as if a UFO had landed on top of the old Stalinist architecture.
VTB Arena – Opening put on hold
The opening game for Dinamo Moscow was scheduled for March 10, 2019. But problems have now put the opening of the stadium on hold once again. This week it emerged that the organisers of the Russian Premier Liga are not accepting the pitch adding another chapter to the drama of the new Dinamo stadium.
After all, Dinamo planned a massive stadium opening with guests and artists. Apparently, even President Vladimir Putin was supposed to make an appearance. But the problem is that the new pitch in the stadium is not ready to be played on by March 10. Newly planted the grass laid out in the stadium has not managed to root into the ground making any football games impossible.
It is a big blow for the club, which hoped to open the stadium against one of their major rivals. But it also creates problems in terms of where Dinamo will play their second game of the second half of the season. The Khimki Arena is already booked for a match between FC Khimki and Sibir Novosibirsk, which would have to be moved to a different location.
Another option would be to move the game to the Luzhniki stadium. But Dinamo are worried that Spartak fans could take over the World Cup final stadium turning the game into an away game.
Nonetheless, the Russian homepage Sports.ru reported that it is likely for the game to take place at Luzhniki. “The pitch, like the arena, is in an optimal state and fully prepared to take any match of the Russian Premier Liga, including a match between Dynamo and Spartak, if necessary,” Yulia Zhurkina told Sports.ru.
On Friday it was, however, announced that the game would take place at Khimki after all. Overall, it is a fitting end to the Dinamo Moscow stadium drama. Three years late the VTB Arena complex is a fantastic facility but marred throughout its construction with delays, causing uncertainty for the club overall, it seems fitting that there was going to be one final chapter. Ultimately, Dinamo will move to the new stadium this spring, but the chance to open the stadium against their biggest rival seems to have disappeared.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.