Wankhede Stadium to be used as quarantine facility

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai has asked the Mumbai Cricket Association to convert the iconic Wankhede Stadium into a quarantine facility.

The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai in Churchgate.   -  FILE PHOTO/ PRASHANT NAKWE

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) has directed the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) to hand over Wankhede Stadium - which hosted the 2011 World Cup final - to be converted into a quarantine facility during the pandemic.

In a letter issued to the MCA officials on Friday, accessed by Sportstar, the MCGM has sought “immediate handover” of the stadium. According to the letter, the Wankhede premises would be used for high-risk contacts.

“The said premises will be used for emergency staff of ‘A’ Ward and quarantining the person whoever in contact with positive COVID-19 patient and are not symptomatic,” stated the letter issued by Chanda R. Jadhav, Assistant Commissioner of ‘A’ ward.

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Confirming the receipt of the letter, MCA secretary Sanjay Naik said the association will comply fully with the authorities. “We are now waiting for further instructions from the assistant commissioner,” Naik said.

Sportstar understands that the MCGM is unlikely to utilise the ground for the time being, anticipating the pre-monsoon showers. Instead, closed-door facilities in the stadium, including the press box, the president’s box and a few corporate boxes.

The Wankhede Stadium is located in a residential area on the Marine Drive. While it could not be confirmed whether the stadium will be converted into a health-care facility for COVID-19 infected individuals, the development has made residents jittery.

“This is very worrying for us all. We were afraid that it might come to this. But our lane is completely residential and the BMC and the government will have to ensure our safety,” said a 50-year-old resident of D Road, citing anonymity. The main entrance of the stadium is on the street.

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Besides the iconic stadium, the premises also houses the MCA and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Garware Club House (GCH). Raj Purohit, vice-president of GCH, confirmed that so far the club hasn’t received any notification about being handed over. “Since the club is closed for two months now, we haven’t been able to maintain it, but if the authorities still want possession, we shall obviously comply,” he said.

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The Wankhede Stadium thus joins an array of gymkhanas on the Marine Drive that have been acquired by the MCGM in anticipation of a spike in positive cases in the coming weeks. The municipal corporation has already converted the National Sports Club of India in Worli and the Mahalaxmi Race Course into temporary healthcare facilities.

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