Winter Olympics, F1 Grand Prix, FIFA World Cup – these are all prestigious events, but in total they provide just a few sell-out crowds over several years. What will by happening at the stadium between each of them? Surely massive spending, nothing else is certain.
Built as the central arena of 2014 Winter Olympic Games, the Fisht Stadium in Sochi still hasn’t got any legacy plan, despite being just a few months from opening. What is clear now is the hosting of opening/closing ceremonies in February 2014, then a stage of the F1 Grand Prix in autumn. Another planned event is scheduled for… June 2018 and it’s the World Cup group stage fixture.
As if this wasn’t enough, the 2014 events can hardly bring any revenue to keep the stadium sustainable as each of them requires massive refurbishment works. For the 2014 Winter Games Fisht is being completely covered, but only roof over the stands is permanent, the remainder of black steel is a temporary spending that won’t be used afterwards. The same goes with laying of the track for F1 drivers to compete on.
Already now it’s clear that the Winter ceremonies forced significant design changes and once the Olympics finish, the stadium will have to undergo a redevelopment. Meanwhile, the stadium is already over 10 times as expensive as it was predicted to be at the beginning.
Once the F1 Grand Prix leaves Sochi, first football pitch can be laid in 2015. But who can make use of it? Local football club FC Zhemchuzhina-Sochi had to withdraw from the 2nd league due to poor finances and even if boosted by public funding, it would hardly fill half the stadium at best. At the same time the Russian national team will soon have several large stadia to use, so just a few fixtures might be held in Sochi.
While it’s still not clear, whether the stadium will be operated by local, regional or federal authorities, it may turn out that between 2014 and 2018 it will become a regular white elephant, requiring multi-million funding to keep operating.