Second-league Baltika against Schalke 04? That would have been great, but won't be. At least for now. The game was cancelled due to harsh weather conditions and fear of how it could have affected the field.
It was supposed to be a festive event, for which many locals were already waiting eagerly. On March 22 the great Schalke 04 was to visit Kaliningrad and play at the opening of the 17.8-billion ruble new stadium.
But it won't happen, at least for now. Schalke, whose participation in the opening was curated by their Russian sponsor Gazprom, may visit Kaliningrad some time later, though no official date has been set.
The reason for changes is winter. While Russia is used to harsh weather (as witnessed by thousands of fans in stadiums despite extreme temperatures in recent days), the turfs of their new stadiums might not be. The Ministry of Sports has issued guidelines on how to preserve the grass before 2018 World Cup games and one of the suggestions is not to host any games before April 11, by which time winter should be gone.
That's why no game will be played in Kaliningrad in March and the opening will thus take place between Baltika and Krylja Sovetov Samara on April 11. Interesringly, both these teams are currently waiting for new stadiums to open, the one in Samara being long overdue.
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With temperatures in Kalininigrad falling far below average (to -11 instead of regular -3), the brand new field of their 35,000-seat stadium was until recent days covered with translucent sheets and lamps are used constantly to provide additional light and warmth.
The new Kaliningrad stadium is fully operational at this point. It was effectively delivered by early 2018. Its surroundings need a lot of work, though. Planned as a major leisure destination in the long term, this area of October Island is largely unoccupied at this point. Further hydrological and geotechnical analyses will soon be carried out to examin the island's suitability for development.