'No private part-funding of St. Petersburg World Cup arena'
St. Petersburg, Oct 25 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The St. Petersburg government has denied that part of the $1.3 billion cost of a football World Cup stadium currently under construction would come from private donations.
The arena, which will host a 2018 World Cup semifinal and Zenit St. Petersburg games, was due to open in 2008 but has suffered repeated delays and ever-rising costs, a process that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said last month "looks disgraceful."
St. Petersburg residents are welcome to help with the construction, city governor Georgy Poltavchenko told local television last week, but denied Wednesday that he had been seeking financial assistance from locals.
"It's completely possible there'll be a proposal to the inhabitants of our city, especially football-lovers, to take part in some work on the stadium," he said.
The governor said this had not been an appeal for donations but that he instead wanted locals to carry out construction work on the site for free.
"I was talking about, probably, that it's right to take part in building the stadium, the issue is voluntary participation in the building work itself. We won't be collecting money from anyone at all, obviously," he said.
The cost of the stadium was increased by $344 million when the latest estimate from the city government was released last week. Poltavchenko said the figure could still change after a federal agency that regulates major infrastructure projects analyses the build.
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. The completion date is set for 2014, Alexei Sorokin, head of Russia's World Cup organising committee has said, although some reports have claimed the project may only be completed in 2017.
The stadium was designed to look like a spaceship by renowned Japanese architect Kisho Kurosawa, who died in 2007.