Comparisons are almost always flawed, but more than that, they are inevitable.
When one heard that the new Dallas Cowboys stadium could seat over a lakh of people, the first thought was that so can Eden Gardens. Kolkata’s Salt Lake stadium is pretty big too, isn’t it?
But the stage for the 2010 NBA All-Star basketball game, which will take place on a football field for the first time since 1996 is something different. Not only because it is bigger than our stadiums (or most stadiums in the world) and a lot cleaner too. We have all heard of the great American dream, the Cowboys’ stadium is a lavish manifestation of it.
Originally budgeted at $ 650 million (Rs 3017 crore), the costs went up to $ 1.3 billion (Rs 6035 crore) by the time it was ready. The numbers look daunting enough, but it’s not until you are there, in the eye of the bullring with rows and empty rows rising all around you that the massiveness hits you. It’s sealed with a retractable roof, which takes 12 minutes to open and shut.
But even if you can wrap your head around the massive creation, the High-definition TV screen will have you gawking. The TV screen, which hangs in the center of the field, is 160-by-72-foot (49 by 22 m), 175-foot (53.34m) diagonal, 11,520-square-foot (1,070 sq m).
You would think that they would at least make some money out of it by lending the arena to the NBA for the All-Star Game.
But, no, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones just burnt another hole in the pocket by winning the rights to host the premier basketball event. The ticket proceeds will be shared by the NBA, host team — Dallas Mavericks, and the Cowboys.
For the All-Star game they have added a few screens and given the entire thing dolby effect by placing microphone underneath the courts and on the rims of the basket frames. They have, literally, cranked up the noise on this one.
Since taking over last Friday, the NBA has rolled out the artificial football turf and laid the basketball court, all of it less than 10 days.
And despite the logistical challenges, the NBA employees believe the toughest task was to put up the maps and the signboards for people to find their way, since the stadium is just too new for everyone.
Coming back to the comparisons, since when did the paying public become a priority?
And forget numbered bucket seats, most of the stadiums in India do not even have seats to start with. The sports infrastructure in the country may be growing with the Commonwealth Games and influences from outside, but their maintenance and proper usage will remain a challenge.
If even minus the perks, authorities can offer cleaner, friendlier places people might just come in to watch sport. After all more than 80,000 people haven’t turned up consistently for the football games in Dallas to watch the big-screen or the roof in action.