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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhniki Lost $2M in UEFA Cup Final

Luzhniki Stadium -- which officials say has never turned a profit hosting major sporting events and gets the bulk of its income from the wholesale market on its grounds - lost about $2 million on the UEFA Cup soccer final last month.

But officials said that with a bid placed for the European Cup, they are optimistic that the 84,000-seat stadium will become profitable.

"It's hard to put an exact figure, but our estimates show that we lost about $2 million," Luzhniki general director Vladimir Alyoshin acknowledged at a news conference last week.

Luzhniki, which is 50 percent owned by City Hall, suffered the loss despite getting 1.35 million Swiss francs ($878,300) from the UEFA to stage the May 12 final in which Italy's Parma beat Olympique Marseille of France 3-0.

Luzhniki officials said it was not surprising that the first large sporting events would be at a loss because of the funds sunk into the stadium to bring it up to international standards.

Also, tickets to the cup final did not sell well - only 61,000 seats were sold - and $600,000 in revenues was lost because the Luzhniki-operated wholesale market was shut down for two days during the final, they said. The market accounts for $31 million, or about 65 percent, of the stadium's annual revenues. Concerts and other cultural events also bring in money.

Other officials said the losses from the UEFA Cup came in part because of poor planning by the stadium.

Moscow has poured millions of dollars into giving Luzhniki a face lift.

Mechislav Klimovich, head of the Moscow administration's city debt committee, said that City Hall has extended the stadium a 500 million ruble ($83 million) five-year loan to develop its infrastructure. Other city government sources say the loan is up to 1.2 billion rubles.

The city invested $16 million in renovations ahead of the World Youth Games last year, and $1 million was spent in 1997 to replace the aging wooden seats with plastic ones. That upgrade was handled by a company owned by Mayor Yury Luzhkov's wife, Yelena Baturina.

Luzhniki officials said they now expect to reap profits on sporting events because all the needed infrastructure investments have been completed.

The next big anticipated event is the European Cup final, in 2000 or 2001.

Luzhniki spokesman Sergei Borisov said: "We plan to cover the expenses with revenues from tickets whose price will be close to international standards: from $20 for the cheapest to $70 to $80 for average ones. In the UEFA Cup final the tickets cost only $2 to $20."

Such high prices for Luzhniki tickets would not be unheard of.

Muscovites attending a Rolling Stones concert last August paid from $20 to $850 a ticket.

Borisov said Luzhniki has never hosted a sporting event that brought in profits.

The stadium could have made a profit on the sold-out Champions League soccer games last year, he said. But Russia's Spartak club, which played in the event, rented out the stadium and hosted the event.

"I believe they made about $1 million per game. We only received $60,000 from the rent," Borisov said.

Luzhniki has learned its lesson, he said, and will not allow Spartak to sign a similar rent deal if it participates in the Champions League games as expected this fall. The stadium will host the event itself.