MCG is the largest cricket stadium in the world, right? No, not anymore.
Cricket is a religion in India. According to a research by ICC, the country is home to 90% of the one billion cricket-lovers across the globe- a mind-boggling 900 million cricket fanatics! And shouldn’t this cricket-crazy nation have the largest cricket stadium in the world? Well, definitely it should!
And that is exactly what’s happening as the largest cricket stadium ever built is about to be opened in Motera, Ahmedabad. The arena, officially known as Sardar Patel Stadium, is capable of accommodating a total of 1,10,000 spectators at once, over twice the old stadium and has ten thousand seats more than the currently largest cricket stadium in the world, the Melbourne Cricket Stadium (MCG).
Fun fact: The Motera Stadium will also be the world’s second-largest stadium in terms of seating capacity, only behind North Korea’s Rungrado May Day Stadium which can accommodate 114,000 fans.
Talking of the largest cricket stadium, we can never ignore the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The new Motera takes away the position of India’s largest cricket ground in terms of capacity from Eden which held the top spot since 1984.
On quite a few occasions, Eden has attracted crowds of over 1 lakh and has been an eye witness to multiple significant incidents of world cricket. While the Motera stadium may have left Eden Gardens behind in terms of capacity, but matching the “Cricket’s answer to Colosseum” in terms of legacy, history and the sheer number of matches played will be surely a tough task.
The completion of this stadium also puts India on par with Australia, with 5 each in the list of largest cricket stadium in the world.
History of the stadium
Sardar Patel Stadium is the prime cricket stadium of Gujarat located in Motera near Ahmedabad and owned by the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA).
The stadium was built in 1982 when the state government donated 50 acres of land to Gujarat Cricket Association. The stadium was built by Shashi Prabhu and Associates who completed construction in nine months.
Since then, it has been the home stadium of the Gujarat Cricket team and has hosted many international matches.
The stadium has recorded a total of 12 Test matches, 23 ODIs and 1 T20 match till date. For records, it has the second-highest number of ODIs after the Eden Gardens (31).
It was also one of the host stadiums for the 1996 & 2011 ICC Cricket World Cups and the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy. In fact, the record attendance of 51,000 was recorded of India-Australia quarter-final of the 2011 World Cup.
Records and landmarks
The stadium is a witness to several landmarks and records over the years. Its popularity grew when Sunil Gavaskar scored his 10,000th run in 1987. Other major landmarks were Kapil Dev’s 432nd wicket to break Richard Hadlee’s record, Sachin Tendulkar’s first double hundred, 217 against New Zealand in 1999 and also when the latter became the first batsman to score 18,000 ODI runs against Australia in 2011.
Reconstruction and design
The stadium was demolished and GCA decided for the reconstruction of a new stadium. The BCCI and GCA did not settle for anything but the best for the project. Demolition was completed by December 2015 and GCA issued a tender notice on 1 January 2016 inviting bids.
The final fight was among three behemoths, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, Nagarjuna Construction and Larsen & Toubro. It was L&T who won the contract with the best concept and design model, at the lowest price of around ₹ 680 crores. The final cost of the stadium stretched to almost ₹ 800 crores.
Showing an uncanny similarity with MCG, this is made by the same design firm M/S Populous. The basic design is based on two giant seating tiers with a capacity of 50,000 each, making the stadium a bowl-like structure. According to Populous, the sheer size of the project and the tight timeframe of completion of just 2 years.
The stadium boasts of a state-of-art multi-level parking facility to accommodate 3,000 cars or 10,000 two-wheelers at a time.
Possibly, the toughest challenge in construction was not using columns. These sometimes obstruct views of the spectators. The Sardar Patel stadium will offer an unobstructed view for each of the spectators, which is quite a feat.
For the work on F&B related areas, Mumbai-based commercial kitchen consultancy firm “Span Asia” worked onboard with L&T and Populous. They worked on the design for Concession counters, player’s kitchens, stadium kitchens, VIP/VVIP boxes, corporate boxes, press boxes, pantries etc. It also boasts of a centrally air-conditioned system and a separate facility for the disabled.
Built on an area of 63 acres, the stadium has
- a total of 50 rooms,
- 4 team dressing rooms,
- 76 corporate boxes,
- an indoor cricket facility,
- three practice grounds and
- an Olympic-sized swimming pool, among others.
The indoor facility has up to 6 indoor pitches and a dormitory to accommodate 40 athletes.
On the cricketing side of things, there are a total of 11 pitches on the ground with black soil, red soil and a mix of both. This will allow bouncy, spin-friendly as well as sporting pitches for various matches. A standout feature is the advanced drainage system which can dry up the ground in just 30 minutes.
The stadium boasts of a state-of-art multi-level parking facility to accommodate 3000 cars or 10,000 two-wheelers at a time.
Being built at an estimated cost of $100 million, the Motera Stadium with a seating capacity of 100,000 spectators will be the world's largest cricket stadium overtaking the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia. pic.twitter.com/m2ndE384lT
— Gujarat Information (@InfoGujarat) February 14, 2020
Something really challenging which came up for the firms and in general, in case of any stadium are column constructions. These, sometimes obstruct views of the spectators. The Sardar Patel stadium will offer an unobstructed view for each of the spectators, as it has no column constructions. Truly, this is quite a feat.
The stadium will also get a very useful, ease-of-access feature in the form of a “Skywalk”. This will let the crowd to directly enter the stadium from the metro station just 300 metres away, without obstructing traffic. However, this will not happen before September 2020. It is not a part of the Motera Metro station project and not of the actual stadium.
Inauguration by US President Donald Trump
The grandest possible inauguration awaits for the facility on 24 February. PM Modi’s government have planned an event “Kem Cho, Trump” on the lines of “Howdy, Modi” in Houston to welcome US President Donald Trump. This is a part of Trump’s two-day visit to India.
Instructions to the state officials ask the stadium absolutely jam-packed on Trump’s visit. He will participate in the grand roadshow with PM Modi and also pay a visit to Sabarmati Ashram.
Preparations have been on at full throttle and the road from the airport is being beautified with flower pots, palm trees on the road and graffiti paintings on the walls. The area is being sanitised with fogging machines to remove mosquitoes from there.
To add to the festive mood, cultural groups from various states will be there to entertain the President.