On April 19th, we visited the famous Donbass Arena. For the first time in all the years of war, they let journalists come to this huge, beautiful stadium. This facility is now under external management, and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Tourism of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has organized a tour for the media to show the current state of the arena, and to talk about its prospects.
They gave us a tour of the premises, showed us the conference rooms, VIP lounges, and players’ locker rooms. Everything was spotless and in place as if there hadn’t been a three year idle period. In some places, you could still see the state symbols of Ukraine, but the main score board already sported the DPR flag.
The guide of our tour was the Minister of Youth, Sports and Tourism of the DPR Mikhail Mishin.
Among other things, he showed us the sites of damage as the stadium had been damaged twice over the war. In the August of 2014 artillery riddled its walls and shelled out several big thick windows. Then, in the October of the same year, a shock wave from an OTR-21 Tochka-U*, which landed in the outskirts of Donetsk, blew out a whole block of windows.
On the field itself, the lawn is under repair as it wasn’t heated throughout the war. Now, it is watered and lit with special lamps. According to the new manager of the arena, Oleg Kovalchuk, the lawn will be ready in 4 to 6 weeks.
After all the necessary preparations, the stadium, which can host up to nearly 53 thousand spectators, will once again welcome athletes. It will also become a venue for various concerts and festivals for the residents of Donetsk.
*OTR-21 Tochka-U (Tactical Operational Missile Complex “Tochka U”; from the Russian word “Point”) is a Soviet tactical ballistic missile. Its GRAU designation is 9K79; its NATO reporting name is SS-21 Scarab B. Its maximum range is 120 km (75 mi); its circular error probable (CEP) is estimated to be about 95 m (312 ft) – Editor