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Andrei Peregoudov’s online interview about reconstructed Dynamo Stadium
VTB Arena is a large and ambitious project. At the same time, the notorious Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg has become the most expensive stadium in the world and it is still not finished. What are the chances that VTB Arena will be commissioned on time? // belen
— I don’t think that the stadium in Saint Petersburg will be the most expensive in the world. There are very different stadiums in the world; I remember that the stadium in London was built for one billion pounds. There are also very expensive stadiums in the USA 1.3 billion US dollars was spent on construction of one arena there, but it was for American football. The cost of a stadium depends on several factors: surrounding infrastructure, land price. That’s why I don’t believe that Zenit Stadium will be a leader. It just happened so that its project was revised several times. And there were certain objective reasons for that. In our case, fortunately, the project was significantly revised only ones. It happened when we were excluded from the applicants’ list for FIFA World Cup 2018. Then we had to revise almost the entire project. At the beginning of the project, there were other opening dates scheduled. Now we are planning to open the Stadium with a symbolic match on October 22nd, 2017, Lev Yashin’s birthday anniversary. This plan is still in force. We should not take it easy. Many people ask us how the Stadium opening will be organized. I think that the 22nd of October will the date when we will hold a football match and an opening ceremony – not just a football event but a city-wide celebration. It is not a simple stadium, it is a sacred venue for, let’s say, joyful parties. Even when there was no television, people still came there to walk and listen to a radio broadcast of the game in Petrovsky Park if they could not enter the stadium. It will be an opening ceremony for the entire Petrovsky Park district. As for the complete opening of the whole facility, which surely is a very serious and complex civil engineering structure, the full operation will start in Spring 2018 when it will be fully occupied by the Dynamo football club after winter vacation. In Summer, the Dynamo hokey teams and CSKA basketball teams will be able to train there and arrange official matches later.
— We are a getting too far ahead. Does it mean you can assure the fans that the Stadium will open on the announced day? // Gazeta.Ru
— For now, everything is under the schedule. However, they say “Man proposes, God disposes”. Anything might happen during construction. For example, Petrovsky Park metro station was supposed to be opened in 2015, but it was not. And opening of the passage between Dynamo metro station and Petrovsky Park metro station had to be postponed because, according to Vice Mayor Marat Khunsullin, the construction had encountered challenging ground conditions. This passage is adjacent to our construction site and therefore, it is also our problem. Now we need to apply additional efforts to secure our western grandstand which is a historic monument and must be preserved as designed. Off course, we will do our best to open and start running the facility on time. On the other hand, I think that a full capacity operation will start only in 2018 when our both facilities will hosting 50–170 events annually.
— You are saying that VTB Arena is a unique project. What makes it a unique project in particular? Does it bring any advantages to regular people? // Dow
— Here we have several factors. First, a unique location of the Stadium in Moscow. It is unbelievably convenient location to hold mass events. Mostly because it is located in the city center and spectators are able to come there after working hours from all parts of the city avoiding the main outflow traffic. It was our conscious choice, though many developers engaged in construction of new sports facilities do not take an old stadium that must be restored, like we did, but select a greenfield project. In recent years in Western countries, the USA in particular, 80% of all new sports facilities tend to be located in city centers and not in in the outskirts where the land is cheaper. Because central location is better from logistics point of view. This is the main advantage of our project.
The project is unique because one stadium and one multifunctional arena are located under one roof within the historic wall perimeter. There is nothing like that anywhere in the world, we have checked it. We know that from construction point of view this decision is not the easiest one. The necessity to ensure a complete utilization of this place literally pushed us to such decision because it was unreasonable to start an expensive and modern greenfield project just for the sake of 20 events per year. To locate two facilities under one roof, we had to raise them 10 meters above the ground level, which was dictated by the architectural concept. It seems that the arenas are flying above the ground covered by a beautiful lace of the roof. We are even planning to apply to the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest real estate project raised above the ground to such height.
— The old stadium, Entrance 14, and nearby facilities were providing fitness and powerlifting training and classes. Will the new facility provide the same classes and prices as before the reconstruction? It is well known that the stadium previously had social importance for the district and someone must subsidize the cost of training classes in the new Stadium. Has it been considered by VTB? // Sergey
— This is not quite a question to the developer. Actually, as far as I know, there have been almost no free sports classes in Moscow since long ago. I’m telling it because, in some way, I am an active user of sports classes and my children, when they were growing, were doing all different kinds of sports. In addition, I was specially studying this issue. Even sports classes for children in the famous Dynamo Sports Academy were not absolutely free of charge. Sports classes for children, as well as sports classes for adults became commercial long time ago. My colleagues and I are playing hockey at nights and we know the expensive cost of an ice rink. And nevertheless, ice rinks are still in great demand. So, the price of sports classes in the new Dynamo Sports Academy will have to be determined together with our partner, Dynamo Society. They should decide themselves what will be the best price for sports classes.
We should understand that it is impossible to fit everything in the territory of 32 hectares, including 8 hectares of a green park. In other words, you cannot squeeze a football academy, athletics academy, water sports center, gymnastics academy and all other kinds of sports mentioned by our readers into one territory or one building. For example, when we were discussing the football academy for children with football players, they immediately announced their requirement: four training fields. But there is no place for four football fields in principle. Therefore, we decided to allocate a separate territory near the Vodny Stadium, where a full scale football academy for children should be built. Dynamo Society is dealing with it itself. The Water Sports Center is also located there. The Dynamo decided that the Athletics Center should be located in the South of Russia, Krasnodar Territory, because Dynamo had a sports camp there. Besides, that is the place where it is easier to run, breathe and general cardio is healthier there. We are focused on Dynamo’s specific disciplines. Let’s say, we will have place for all sorts of martial arts, a big shooting range, two hockey training rinks (a unique case for Moscow when one facility has one big KHL-size hockey rink and two training rinks), and an arena — everything that we could fit into our limited space.
— Could you please describe in more detail the relationship between VTB Group and Dynamo Society. How the Dynamo football club is related to the Dynamo Society and what is VTB Group’s place in this relationship? // Gazeta.Ru
— VTB Group has a very long relationship with Dynamo. We had several contracts supporting different Dynamo teams. VTB Group has a current sponsorship contract with the Dynamo hockey club. We have also been supporting the Dynamo football club for several years. Since I am responsible for real estate, project development and construction at VTB Group, this issue is not in my competence. But I would like to say that our project in Petrovsky Park is, to some extent, a unique one because VTB Group and Dynamo Society have established a joint company, which is focused on making profit from this project, from operation of its facilities, including commercial facilities, in order to support the activities of Dynamo Society. Besides, a joint utilization of the football and hockey facilities will allow these teams to find sponsorship and have better earnings. In other words, a joint utilization means joint earnings instead of rent payments.
The situation is a bit more complicated when we speak about the football club. VTB Group is the owner of the Dynamo football club with 75 % of its shares. However, it has been already announced that these share will be sold to Dynamo Society at a token price.
This event will close the period when the bank actually owned a non-core asset, which was managed by some assigned third persons. It will make things straight and clear with understanding who is responsible for the football club’s activities. In our turn, we will be building a nice stadium for them to use it together later. It is important to understand that such mutually beneficial utilization is possible only in one case: when we have a common plan how to exercise our commercial rights for the future facility. It will not be acceptable that the T-shirts of Dynamo football player carry one logo but the billboards in the park show another one. There is something wrong about it.
We have been discussing with the football club the possibility of joint exercise of commercial rights. Probably, it will be the only possible way to earn money and help the football and hockey teams.
— Are you telling that you have managed to come to a mutual agreement or your negotiations are still in progress? // Gazeta.Ru
— Here, we fully understand each other. And this understanding will be even stronger because we need to explain everything to the new management of Dynamo Society. We have recently created a new company called Arena Park Events that will be responsible for the opening ceremony organization and exercise of commercial rights. This new company has already started intensive activities. The first results show that the project commercialization can only be successful providing good coordination with Dynamo Society.