An artist's rendering shows what Luzhniki arena will look like after renovations.
The World Athletics Championships "will be the last major event staged at Russia's top sports venue" -- Moscow's Luzhniki arena -- before it "shuts down for several years to undergo a complete renovation for the 2018 football World Cup," according to the AFP. Event organizers "have already renewed the field, tracks and jumping sectors" at the 84,745-capacity arena for the championships, which begin Saturday and run through Aug. 18. The improvements "are just the first step in the total reconstruction of the stadium, which is remembered fondly" by Muscovites as the centerpiece of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Moscow chief architect Sergei Kuznetsov said, "The arena, which is also a historic monument, will not be demolished. But it's also impossible to leave it as it is because it doesn't fit the strict FIFA demands for World Cup venues. But the outward appearance of the venue will not be seriously changed, to keep this historic memory of the nation alive." Stadium Deputy General Dir Boris Megrelidze said, "The renovation of the arena will begin right after the end of the athletics championships. We're planning the capacity of around 88,000 seats after the reconstruction. It's the FIFA demand and we shall adhere to it unconditionally." The arena should be reopened in '17 (AFP, 8/5