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One worker dies in arena collapse at future site of 2023 World Championship

A 29-year-old man has died after the roof of the Saint Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex collapsed during demolition. The 40-year-old arena was being razed to make way for a 23,000-seat venue that was part of Russia's bid for the 2023 World Championship.

The roof and walls of an arena in Russia have collapsed during demolition, resulting in the death of one worker.

According to Fontanka.ru, Russian officials have recovered the body of 29-year-old Matvey Kucherov, who was cutting cables atop the Saint Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex when the collapse occurred. In harrowing footage captured by drone, a man can be seen cutting a girder supporting the roof when the collapse begins. He attempts to make his way back to the crane that had lifted he and another worker atop the roof when the collapse occurs. (WARNING: Graphic footage.)

Originally constructed in 1980 and known otherwise as SKK Peterburgsky, the arena was closed in August 2019 and demolition began Friday. The site was set to become the home of a state-of-the-art arena for KHL club SKA Saint Petersburg.

“This project for the SKK Peterburgskiy arena will see it become one of the best stadiums in the world, something which will give Saint Petersburg an added impulse for improving its image and helping solve both social and economic problems,” read a May 2018 team statement. “The city will fight for the right to host the 2023 IIHF World Championship. The stadium, children's nurseries and surrounding neighbourhood will all be included in the plans for development.”

In the same release, SKA president Gennadi Timchenko said his hope was for the new building to be “the best in Europe.”

Added SKA vice president Roman Rotenberg: “The SKK's reconstruction will be a breakthrough for ice hockey. First of all, we want to accommodate the interests of our fans. Usually, examples of stadiums in Chicago, Detroit and New York are given, but Saint Petersburg will also soon become an example.”

The arena was planned to be the largest in the world. When first announced, the building was slated to have a capacity of 22,400, with an eye toward being “a little bigger” than any arena in North America. However, according to IIHF.com's Martin Merk, plans for the final capacity were fluid. In an interview with Fontanka, Timchenko said capacity would be decided “at the very end. If by that time someone should manage to build even bigger [than us], then we will make it bigger and nevertheless become the biggest.”

Saint Petersburg was awarded the 2023 World Championship in May 2019, with the new arena among the deciding factors in the winning bid. The 12,300-seat Ice Palace, current home of SKA, will also host tournament games.

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