MOSCOW: The new stadium in Kaliningrad, which will host four World Cup ties including England v Belgium – will be formally opened on March 22.
The occasion will be a club friendly between the local second division outfit Baltika and Germany’s Schalke.
Kaliningrad is a Russian exclave on the Baltic coast, between Poland and Lithuania. The match will be sponsored by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, sponsor also of the Bundesliga club.
In the Middle Ages, the fortress city was the capital of the Duchy of Prussia and East Prussia and was known as Konigsberg.
The local club competed in the German championship in the inter-war years. In 1942 VfB Konigsberg reached the quarter-finals of the competition which was won, ultimately, by Schalke.
The city was heavily damaged by a British bombing raid in 1944 and then a Soviet Red Army siege in the spring of 1945. It was formally transferred to the Soviet Union[at the Potsdam Conference.
City officials were disappointed that the World Cup finals draw did not bring either Poland or Germany to the venue.