After a gap of 4.5 years when doors of cricket stadium at Motera in Ahmedabad opens it’s doors to cricket enthusiasts in March 2020, it would have not only emerged as cricket’s largest arena in the world, but would also be armed with a mix of three kinds of pitches that will suit the requirements of both fast-bowlers and spinners.
The Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) is bringing both red and black soil to prepare three kinds of pitches within the new stadium. “GCA is preparing 11 cricket pitches at the world’s largest cricket stadium…Some pitches will be prepared with red soil, while some will be with black soil and some may have a mix of both. There will be bouncy as well as spin-friendly pitches along with sporting pitches based on the requirement,” said Dhanraj Nathwani, Vice President of GCA in a reply to a questionnaire mailed to his office. The soil is being sourced from Gujarat and other states.
The stadium will also have excellent “sub-surface” drainage facilities that will help the out-field to dry out within 30 minutes of rains. “We have planned a sub-surface drainage system in such a way that the entire ground will dry within 30 minutes after the rain stops. It will help us reduce the chances of cancellation of matches due to rain,” Nathwani added.
Built at a cost of Rs 700 crore by Larsen & Tubro (L&T), the new structure has come up from scratch after the old stadium at Motera with a total seating capacity of just 53000 and named after Sardar Vallabbhai Patel was pulled down in 2015.
In over three decades of its existence on the banks of river Sabarmati, the old stadium was witness to a few cricketing records including 1987 when Sunil Gavaskar became the first batsman in history to go past 10000 Test runs in 1987and seven years later Kapil Dev broke Richard Hadlee’s wicket tally of 432nd test wicket-record. The old stadium had hosted 12 tests and 24 ODIs between 1983 and 2014 and was one of the venues of the World Cup in 2011 and the 2006 edition of the ICC Champions Trophy. The demolition of the old stadium began in September 2015.
The new stadium, that is likely to host the first game between Asia XI and World XI in March 2020, has been designed by M/s Populus, the principal architect who also designed Australia’s Melbourne Cricket Group which is currently the biggest cricket stadium in the world with close to one lakh seating capacity. “Looking to the progress of the project, it may take another 5-6 months’ time to fully complete,” Nathwani said adding that currently the work of stadium facade, external area development and work on the field of play is in progress.
When asked why two pavilions at the new stadium are being named after the Adani and the Reliance Groups, Nathwani said, “Pavilions are named based on sponsorship received. Reliance has sponsored the North Pavilion, while Adani has retained their association with GCA by sponsoring the South pavilion.” When asked if GCA plans to name any part of the new stadium after Kapil Dev or Sunil Gavaskar, he said that the committee of the association will decide the same at an appropriate time.
The stadium for which the “foundation stone laying ceremony ” was held in January 2017, will house two large seating tiers, each with approximately 50,000 general admission seat capacity. The seating bowl according to the stadium’s main architect Populus provides every one of the 110,000 seats with a full unobstructed view of the field. It has been designed in a way that directs cricket enthusiasts to fill the lower levels for smaller events, thereby helping to maintain the spectator atmosphere even when the seating bowl is not full. Apart from this, the seating bowl also has 76 corporate boxes, four-team dressing rooms, and associated facilities, a state-of-the-art club and an Olympic-size swimming pool.
The designer has ensured that the stadium’s vehicular movement is on the ground level, while the pedestrian movement will be on a level above, ensuring clear segregation. Spectators can enter from the north side of the stadium which is near to the Ahmedabad metro rail project and can use the 12-meter high ramp to enter on the first floor.
The stadium can accommodate over 3000 cars and 10000 two-wheelers.
Apart from three outdoor practice fields adjoining the stadium, the structure also has an indoor cricket academy which will be housed under the podium in the stadium with a dormitory for up to 40 athletes. The academy also has access to six indoor practice pitches.