Football Delhi president Shaji Prabhakaran has written to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), requesting them to handover the Ambedkar Stadium on a lease of ‘at least 20 years.’
According to the proposal, Football Delhi will invest up to Rs 2 crore in the first two-three years to refurbish the stadium. Among other things, the local governing body has said they will redevelop the turf as per international standards, revamp the dressing rooms and spectator galleries and install bucket seats in the entire stadium by 2020.
The Ambedkar Stadium, once the hub of football in the capital, is in a sorry state currently. Largely considered to be spectator unfriendly due to the concrete terraces and limited entry/exit gates, the quality of the surface, which is hard and uneven, has also been criticised by the players and officials. Consequently, most footballing activities in Delhi have shifted to the JLN Stadium, which boasts of superior world-class facilities.
But teams have complained that JLN lacks atmosphere that Ambedkar provides. Indian Super League side Delhi Dynamos have even considered shifting their matches to Ambedkar, but the idea has been rejected by the league organisers owing to poor maintenance and safety standards.
“There’s a lot of history attached to this stadium. It is the site of some famous India triumphs. We hope to upgrade the stadium and bring it on par with international standards. We have written to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, who own the stadium, and are hopeful to receive their support,” Prabhakaran, a former FIFA development officer for South and Central Asia, said.
Under the proposal, the stadium would be reserved for 25 days in a year for MCD activities, as per pre-decided dates. For rest of the year, it will be used only for football. One of the key objectives, as per the document, is to “organize around the year football activities using the Stadium and attract international football events to further develop football in Delhi.”
Football Delhi has also made an ambitious claim that they will be ‘able to bring more than Rs.50Cr investment through a corporate partnership.’