With just under 20 days to go for the Fifa Under-17 World Cup 2017 to go, the six venues have been renovated, upgraded and re-designed keeping in mind India’s exposure to a global audience.
Problems have abounded aplenty, especially in Kerala but with the World Cup almost upon us, let’s take a look at the six stadia and how they’ve been changed.
Yuva Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata
The venue for the final, the Salt Lake stadium, has been renovated reportedly at a cost of Rs 100 crore. The most important feature of the remodelling has been the installation of bucket seats, replacing the older, concrete slabs.
Previously able to hold 1,20,000, the iconic stadium can now hold 80,000 people but the tournament organisers have decided to keep the capacity limited to 66,687. The dressing rooms have also been redesigned with four rooms which have a combined capacity of 96 players at the same time.
Dry and wet washrooms have been separated and a brand new-natural grass turf has been installed in place of the older artificial turf.
DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai
Fans of the Indian Premier League side Mumbai Indians will be familiar with the facilities at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
On first inspection, Tournament Director of the Fifa Under-17 World Cup, Javier Ceppi was thrilled, “This is by far the best stadium in the country at this point of time. We need to make sure that every other stadium is as good. This is the standard other stadiums have to get to.”
Despite the 55,000-seater stadium already having bucket seats, they relaid them for the tournament. The stadium possesses a fabric roof, which has been installed. A Justin Bieber concert in May meant that the turf had to be relaid and a new solar power plant will take care of the stadium’s power needs.
Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati
The Indira Gandhi Stadium, also known as Sarusajai Stadium, is also home to the Indian Super League side Northeast United. The stadium also hosted a 6-1 thumping of Laos in the Asian Cup 2016 qualifiers by India.
This stadium, which will host a semifinal, has seen its capacity reduced to 24,000 in lieu of Fifa’s security protocols, as bucket seats have been installed. Refurbishments have been carried out include an upgraded media centre, a new VIP area as well and some access points on the roads.
A new roof has been put in place above the gallery on the eastern side, as street lights have been installed on the highway that connects the stadium to the city and also with the airport.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi
The JLN, or the Kaloor Stadium, needs no introduction at all – it plays host to both cricket and football at both the national and international levels. Originally at a 55,000-plus capacity, sitting arrangements for this tournament will be close to 42,000 people.
Kochi has been the eye of a storm since the Fifa team began inspections, with the preparations and the speed of renovation highly criticised by both Ceppi and Fifa Head of Events, Jamie Yarza.
The stadium’s drainage networks, toilet facilities, dressing rooms, and air-condition systems have received a facelift. The practise grounds, which were unprepared till recently, have been completed.
The city’s civic and infrastructure works continue to lag behind the pace of the renovations and general displeasure over progress has robbed Kochi of a semifinal, which looked like a certainty when the venues were initially announced by Fifa.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa
The JLN Stadium in Fatorda is a familiar sight for Indian football lovers, having served as home to as many as five I-League teams as well as ISL outfit FC Goa.
Having been built in 1989, the stadium was upgraded to meet Fifa standards in 2014 and now boasts a sitting capacity of a little over 19,000. Demands for tickets have been lukewarm but with sales of physical tickets underway, sales may see a revival.
Total cost of renovation is an estimated Rs 8 crores, including the upgradation of two players’ dressing rooms, referees’ room, medical facilties, youth development centre, and a media tribune. The brightness of the flood lights have also been increased.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi
The most important venue from a host nation perspective as all of India’s matches are to be held here, kicking-off against the United States on October 6.
The multi-purpose stadium, located in the capital, will only host matches till the Round of 16 stage though, owing to concerns regarding pollution, especially around the time of Diwali.
Bucket seats have been installed, along with upgradation of training grounds, new internet connection for the media centre, re-painting of facilities and re-laying of turf.