Ice Hockey at Tatneft Arena Ice Palace of Sports

Roman Kruchinin/TASS

Tatneft Arena, a symbol of Kazan's rejuvenation, was built for the city's millennium anniversary, marked in August 2005. It is also the home arena of the Ak Bars ice hockey club, many-time champions of the Continental Hockey League. The club was named Mashstroy when it was founded in 1956, was later renamed SK Imeni Uritskogo, and then Itil. It received its current name in 1995.

They love ice hockey in Kazan. The city got its first hockey teams right after the Great Patriotic War, in the late 1940s. But it was with the emergence of the Russian Super-League that Kazan's ice hockey scene really took off. Kazan's ice hockey clubs have been successful due to a combination of factors: the right strategy, persistent training, support from the republic's government, and stadiums always packed with faithful fans.

A visit to Tatneft Arena is an adventure in its own right. The stadium has two parking areas, for 800 and 440 vehicles, respectively. The hockey battle is in plain view from any seat, anywhere inside the stadium. But just in case something gets in the way of one's watching the game, there is a giant four-sided video cube up at the ceiling. There are a few cafeterias and a restaurant at Tatneft Arena. On the third level, there are some negotiating rooms locally dubbed "business cubicles." The VIP boxes are on the fourth level. A VIP box seats eight people. It has a separate entrance, elevator, balcony, phone, TV, coat-check and restroom.