Luzhniki Stadium reopens to host opening game of FIFA World Cup
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Luzhniki Stadium reopens to host opening game of FIFA World Cup

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The 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup kicks off today, marking the re-opening of what has been described as the "most high-tech stadium in World Cup history".

Originally built in 1956, the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow has been completely redeveloped for the World Cup, as part of a redesign led by Moscow-based studio Speech.

While the stadium's distinctive Soviet-era walls and roof form have been retained, it has been "brought into the 21st century" with a number of technological additions across the venue.

Access systems have been improved, the spectator journey has been transformed and modern media facilities have been added.

The stadium's capacity has also been increased from 78,000 to 81,000.

The works, which began in 2013, are understood to have cost around £309m.

Perhaps the most radical aspect of the stadium has been the installation of a part-synthetic pitch.

Supplied by SIS Pitches, the SISGrass system consists of 95 per cent natural turf reinforced with plastic.

When Luzhniki hosts the final of the competition on 15 July, it will be the first time a World Cup final will be played on a part-synthetic pitch.

The pitch is set to host seven games in just four weeks, so a team of 12 experts from SIS Pitches has been flown in to maintain the surface during the event.

“Luzhniki will have the heaviest programme of games and training sessions," said SIS chief executive George Mullan. "Not to mention the opening ceremony and all the rehearsals."

“Maintaining a pitch under these circumstances can be challenging as the opening ceremony is taking place on the pitch just half an hour before the first game kicks off."

This year's World Cup is being played out at 12 stadiums across 11 cities.

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