Why Russia's Ekaterinburg Arena Has Seating Outside the World Cup Stadium

These newly-constructed stands at Tsentralnyi Stadium stretch nearly 140 feet into the Ekaterinburg sky.
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Stadium architects in Russia needed to add seats to the 60-year-old Ekaterinburg Arena to meet FIFA's minimum seating capacity ahead of the region's first World Cup match on June 15 between Egypt and Uruguay. The challenge was also preserving the history of a place that locals consider "a hallowed ground."

The solution? Architects constructed removable rafters on both endlines that provide fans a unique horizontal view of the pitch below, but it also leaves the fans in those seats completely exposed to the elements. Andrew Keh for the New York Times says the finalized stands look like "enormous drawers pulled from a cabinet." Central Stadium can now seat just over 35,000 people.

Fans afraid of a little rain may be in the clear ("There is a Russian saying that for nature, there is no bad weather," Sverdlovsk region sports minister Leonid Rapoport said.

Those afraid of heights might be in for a shock: the stands stretch nearly 140 feet into the Russian sky.

The stands are constructed from metals extracted from the nearby Ural Mountains. They will be removed once the World Cup ends. The stadium that remains was originally built in 1957 and will still seat 23,000. It serves as the home of local club FC Ural. The entire endeavor cost just under $200 million, Keh reports.