Putin calls for World Cup stadiums to be self-sustaining

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This photo taken on Saturday, April 21, 2018 shows the new 45,000-seat World Cup stadium in Volgograd, Russia. (AP Photo/Dmitriy Rogulin)
This photo taken on Saturday, April 21, 2018 shows the new 45,000-seat World Cup stadium in Volgograd, Russia. (AP Photo/Dmitriy Rogulin)

Moscow (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia’s 12 World Cup stadiums must be financially self-sustaining, following calls from some officials for government subsidies.

“All the facilities need to be able to cover their costs,” Putin said during an annual phone-in on Thursday. He suggested the stadiums could add cafes and shopping malls to boost their profitability.

“We spent a lot of money and I agree it needs to work for the benefit of sport,” he said.

Various World Cup stadiums will cost 200 million to 400 million rubles ($3.2 million to $6.4 million) a year each in maintenance, regional officials have estimated.

The Russian government says total World Cup costs are around $11 billion, not including some infrastructure spending.

World Cup organizing committee CEO Alexei Sorokin told The Associated Press in April the government may need to “help stabilize the operating situation” of some venues with federal money, “and there is nothing wrong with that.”

Sorokin added the stadiums will eventually be “on their feet.”

Several World Cup host cities are struggling with the question of what to do after the World Cup with arenas whose capacity is many times larger than the average attendance for club games.

Club team Rotor Volgograd will occupy a new 45,000-seat World Cup stadium despite averaging home crowds of just 3,800 this season. Baltika Kaliningrad will inherit a 35,000-seat arena with average crowds of 6,100.