The Sachin Tendulkar Stand at the Wankhede Stadium doesn’t do justice to the legend nor the people who sit in it.
The Tendulkar Stand was one of the sections of the stadium from where people could watch the Ranji Trophy final free of charge. But, as the accompanying pictures show, it must not have been too pleasing a prospect. The benches, none too comfortable anyway, are covered with layers of dust and bird droppings.
Many of those who did sit in the Tendulkar Stand, or anywhere else in the stadium for that matter, brought along pieces of cardboards and newspapers to sit on. Others perched themselves upon the thin backrests to avoid sitting on the benches.
It is embarrassing for a major centre like Mumbai — which will host the World Cup final in 2011 — to be in this shape. “I wish they did something about this,” said 46-year-old Suryakant Shinde, a spectator who had come to the ground from Andheri. “It’s a mess.”
Sanitation levels are abysmal too, as the accompanying picture of the bathroom in the Vijay Merchant Stand illustrates. Suma Sharma, seated in the Tendulkar Stand with her husband, said, “The toilets are in a bad shape. I expected the facilities to be better.”
Prof. Ratnakar Shetty, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) treasurer, said that the stands had been cleaned a couple of days before the Ranji final but admitted that overall, the condition of the stadium was not in keeping with Mumbai’s status.
“It’s true, maintenance has been lacking,” he said. “It’s top priority for us now. The stadium has to meet International Cricket Council (ICC) standards if we have to stage World Cup matches. One thing we are certainly going to do is fix bucket seats in the entire arena.”
Shetty said that Mumbai would not be hosting a big match for about two years after the Ranji final. That would give the MCA time to work on the stadium. “Although, as per the rotation policy, Mumbai is scheduled to host a game when Australia visit later this year, however, that being September and early October, the monsoons will most certainly hamper the match. So we have a free two years ahead. We plan to renovate the ground in this period.”
Shetty said that the MCA had invited ideas from architects. “Since the stadium has an open roof, bird droppings is a perennial problem,” he said. “One of the measures suggested is to cover the gaps with wire mesh. But that is not fool proof. We are talking to architects and experts. We’ll work on it.”