MOSCOW, October 3 (RIA Novosti)
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Saransk is enacting a $2 billion investment program to transform the modest Russian city into a 2018 World Cup host.
The city of 300,000 people was one of 11 to be awarded host status on Saturday, surprisingly making the final cut ahead of more established sporting centers such as Krasnodar and Yaroslavl.
To play worthy host, Saransk will need one tenth of the overall $19.2 billion budget announced by Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko on Sunday to build the stadium and upgrade road and hospitality infrastructure.
"It's not only Saransk that will be transformed, but the entire republic," said a statement from its government in the republic of Mordovia. "The size of the investment program is 60 billion rubles. The sources of finance will be the federal and regional budgets and also private investment."
All federal highways in the Mordovia republic are to be resurfaced, and Saransk is going to have an orbital highway completed, the statement said.
Rail infrastructure will also be upgraded to connect the nearby hub of Ruzaevka with Moscow, allowing passengers to reach Saransk from the Russian capital in about five hours.
Saransk airport is to undergo major reconstruction work and will feature a temporary, dedicated World Cup terminal that can process 1,000 passengers per hour, the statement added.
The Mordovia governor Vladimir Volkov vowed to prove to visitors the city's capability to stage World Cup games.
"The town is well arranged, the people are very hospitable," he said. "Economy-class student housing, a stadium, all this will appear for the World Cup," he added.
Work has already begun on a 45,000-capacity World Cup arena. Like in other host cities, the plans are to downsize the stadium following the tournament to keep it sustainable.
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