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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zenit's Farewell to Kirov Stadium

ST. PETERSBURG -- There was more than a hint of anticlimax at Kirov Stadium on Thursday.

Zenit St. Petersburg failed to give its historic home a winning sendoff and Dick Advocaat missed the chance to kickstart the club's season in his first game in charge.

The 56-year-old stadium, a monument to the Soviet era, is to be demolished to make way for a new complex that will conform to standards set by UEFA, European football's governing body.

Zenit played out a 0-0 draw with fellow Russian Premier League underachiever Dynamo Moscow, a score that didn't help either club out of its disappointing league position: Zenit remained ninth and Dynamo stayed third from bottom after 10 games.

Dutchman Advocaat joined Zenit last week after guiding South Korea to the World Cup finals, where it finished third in Group G.

UEFA standards dictate that by 2010, any team hoping to participate in European competition will need a top-notch stadium to host the glamorous ties.

And since the nearest stadium meeting the requirements is located in Moscow, the club -- in cooperation with local authorities -- will use the space on the city's Krestovsky Islandwhere the old Soviet colossus stands to erect a $100 million football facility.

The 80,000-capacity Kirov Stadium hosts only 5,000 fewer spectators than Moscow's vast Luzhniki Stadium and has been the site of hundreds of sporting events and concerts since it opened in 1950. The stadium, designed by architect Alexander Nikolsky, took 18 years to build using earth dredged from the Gulf of Finland.

A new, smaller stadium equipped with the modern facilities necessary for European-level soccer is planned.

Without a properly equipped facility by the start of the 2010-11 season, Zenit, which normally plays its matches in the smaller Petrovsky Stadium in the center of the city, will forfeit the privilege of taking part in European competition.

Surrendering money-spinning European football is something Zenit is keen to avoid, as it is the club's ambition to play in the Champions League or UEFA Cup every year, the management said.

St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, whose company will finance the stadium's construction, confirmed the plan in a joint announcement on April 17.

However, because Kirov Stadium is a landmark monument of the Soviet era, the decision to tear it down was not uncontested. The Union of Architects penned an open letter to the governor calling for a project that would keep the Kirov complex and build around it instead of leveling the existing structure and starting over.

However, the final design adopted after an architect's competition required the complete razing of the stadium.

Sergei Shmakov, an architect whose design came second in the competition, has been an outspoken advocate of retaining the original stadium as the essential component of any future design.

In opposition was Matviyenko, who fell in love with the newly built City of Manchester Stadium, in England, on a recent trip there.

"There is the possibility of a new international design competition and the results could be unpredictable," Shmakov said. "But to wreck what's there now would be a big mistake."

On a Zenit fan's web site, some supporters were looking to the future.

"In the grand scheme of things, no one needs the old stadium," one fan wrote. "It's possible that for some it will hold dear memories, but I think that everyone understands that we need a new, more modern stadium."