One of the five permanent centres in Indian cricket, the Ferozeshah Kotla (now renamed Arun Jaitley Cricket Stadium) has often been in the news for the wrong reasons.
In 2009, the fifth and final ODI between India and Sri Lanka was abandoned after 23.3 overs with Sri Lanka on 83 for five. The venue has come a long way from that dark day in Delhi’s cricket history and is getting a makeover ahead of the 2023 ODI World Cup.
Capacity: Officially, the stadium has a capacity of 37,499. Pillars block some of the seats in the general stands and the corporate boxes but the venue has progressed from the time when spectators were seated on roofless concrete stands. The stadium has gained 1700 seats in the old Club House with the permission of the Municipal authorities.
Hospitality boxes: A total of 37 Corporate Boxes are ready in the DDCA Lounge, Bay Area, Hill `B’ and the BCCI Box. Six Boxes are available in the old Club House apart from Marquee Areas catering to every box. For the general stands, every seat has been replaced with new ones. The DDCA Lounge will have a bar and a restaurant that can cater to 110 people at a time.
Pitches: There are nine pitches in the main square of which three will be used for the World Cup. In addition, the two practice areas will also offer new pitches. New nets have been installed in the practice areas. Black soil has been used to prepare the pitches with a 22 to 30-strong ground staff.
Drainage and outfield: The DDCA has procured a state-of-the-art cover that will protect the entire playfield. The authorities have added a new super sopper in addition to the three they have. The drainage system promises to make the outfield available for play within 15 minutes of the stoppage of rain. A new outfield mower will also be in use.
Entry points: There are 18 entry points. Gate Nos. 10 to 18 will allow the general public.
In case of emergency: The seats have been coloured in blue, orange and green and the stairway has been given a different colour for the fans to identify the steps in case of emergency.
Accessibility and challenges: The stadium has a metro station within walking distance. On match days, the metro rail authorities press extra services until two hours after the match is over. Every stand will have new lifts to cater to the elderly and individuals with special needs. A total of nine lifts have been added.
Dressing rooms: Comfortable seats have been added along with dedicated lockers for every member. Sauna baths and ice bath tubs with chilled water available throughout are new features in the revamped dressing rooms. A state-of-the-art gym is also available for players.
Restrooms: Access to clean toilets was an area which invited scathing criticism for DDCA in the past. Authorities have now put in place a total of 77 new washrooms. The authorities will provide sanitary pad dispensing machines and diaper changing stations for for infants.
Water: Free drinking water will be available in every stand through a centralised Reverse Osmosis (RO) facility in the stadium. The authorities have readied 30 drinking water stations (with 10 taps each) at various locations. Also, eateries at reasonable rates will be available for the fans.
Floodlights: There are four LED towers equipped with 400 LED fixtures.
What’s new: LED lights adorn the stadium and facade lighting will illuminate the venue. Gas generators will be in use with an upgraded sub-station and new transformers. A total of 52 new turnstiles have been put in place at a cost of 5.5 crore. New air conditioners will be used in the entire stadium. A canopy at every gate is a new addition with water proofing and fresh paint in every stand. There will be two linear scoreboards in addition to the manual scoreboard which is mandatory. The scores will be visible to every spectator in the stadium. A giant screen will add to the entertainment segment.
Areas that need attention: Parking is an issue at the stadium with space reserved for 300 vehicles catering to teams, broadcasters, BCCI officials, DDCA club members and some important government officials. The organisers have made parking arrangements for ticket holders on match days.
Hotels and tourism: There are many hotels in the vicinity. A popular place is the Delhi Parsi Anjuman Hall, located within 500 metres from the main gate, with rooms at reasonable prices. Quite a few star hotels are available in Connaught Place. The tourism is a plus for any visitor to the Capital with the Red Fort, Rajghat and Jama Masjid less than three km from the stadium.
“The gate to chair experience is my priority for the fans. I have approached my responsibility as a spectator. I have to look at it from the perspective of a ticket-buying fan. We have upgraded every facility from the time the stadium was renovated in 2008. I have given special attention to the food and beverages section for the fans with no compromise on hygiene. As an administrator, I can always look to provide the best of facilities. But the public should also assure responsible utilisation of the facilities. They have to come back again to enjoy the match viewing experience,” says Rohan Jaitley, president of DDCA.