Before the World Cup, Kotla has upped the game: Jaitley
Delhi will host five games during the World Cup, including India’s second game against Afghanistan on October 11.
As you go past the tall gates adorning the murals of Virender Sehwag and Anjum Chopra to enter the Arun Jaitley Stadium through Gate No. 5, the impression of finishing touches being applied for a major event is apparent. The smell of fresh paint, the sound of drilling machines and the sight of mostly middle-aged men dutifully going about their labour-intensive task will greet visitors for the next few days before the tone of bat hitting ball and the deafening roar of about 35,000 fans take over.
The 13th edition of the ODI World Cup is almost upon us and the stadium, located in the heart of the national capital, is currently in the home stretch of the renovation work that began just over a month ago.
Delhi will host five games during the World Cup, including India’s second game against Afghanistan on October 11. Its first game will see South Africa facing Sri Lanka on October 7. The other games are England vs Afghanistan on October 15, Australia vs Netherlands on October 25 and Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka on November 6.
For the officials of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), the focus is on enhancing the spectator experience in accordance with the guidelines of the BCCI. Around 32,000 new chairs — of blue, orange and green hues — are in the process of being put up after waterproofing of the stands, 56 washrooms have been refurbished, LED lights and new turnstiles have been installed and covers that can safeguard the entire playing field have been acquired among a host of other improvements.
“Before the World Cup, we’ve upped the game,” DDCA president Rohan Jaitley said. “We have upgraded the chairs by not just simply changing them but repairing stands, waterproofing them and then installing new chairs. All the washrooms have been upgraded. Five years ago, only a minor number of them were upgraded. Those are being given a vanity upgrade. The remaining 56 bathrooms have been given a complete renovation from scratch. Plumbing, sanitation, tiles... the whole look has changed. We are making it women friendly by installing sanitary dispensing machines within the washrooms. We have a central air conditioning system across the hospitality areas.”
The DDCA expects the total cost of the renovation work to be upward of ₹50 crore. “A renovation of this magnitude has been done for the World Cup. We are expecting all the work to be completed by September 28. The work has been happening on a war footing. The workers have been at the stadium in two separate shifts to ensure that no time is wasted,” Jaitley added.
While it’s not quite clear when renovation on a major scale last took place, it’s certainly been more than a decade since the stadium was spruced up to this extent. “We make cosmetic changes before every IPL. But the intent now was to have a facility that everyone can be proud of. It’s the World Cup and there will be visitors from all over. It’s about the prestige of India.”
Critical from a fan perspective is the easy availability of food and water at the stands. “Food will be available at affordable rates. And water dispensers will be kept that fans can use free of cost,” Jaitley said.
Beyond the effort to embellish the stadium facilities, the nature of pitches on offer will cause a lot of intrigue as the tournament nears. On Monday, the pitches on the centre square were covered with jute sheets till twilight.
“We have added two new pitches in the centre square. There are now nine pitches available. The practice facilities have also been upgraded. In the main practice facility, there are now nine pitches as opposed to eight earlier. In the second practice net, there are six pitches. There were four pitches earlier,” said Jaitley. “Andy Atkinson, ICC’s head curator, made a visit some time back. He was more than satisfied.”
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