IPL 2019 final goes to Hyderabad as Chennai pays price for Chepauk logjam

Stands I, J and K at the stadium, along with the vacant Madras Cricket Club stand, widely known as Chepauk, have been closed for more than half-a-decade.

Staring at closed stands, the league's stakeholders have concerns over Chennai hosting the marquee matches.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

If Chennai does not get to host the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 playoffs and the final, the fault lines can be tracked to three closed stands at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.  

Stands I, J and K at the stadium, along with the vacant Madras Cricket Club stand, widely known as Chepauk, have been closed for more than half-a-decade, barring a lone exception — an India versus Pakistan game in 2012. 

The Chennai Corporation closed these three stands, with a capacity of more than 12,000, as there were discrepancies when the stadium was reconstructed before the World Cup in 2011. 

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Staring at closed stands, the league's stakeholders have concerns over Chennai hosting the marquee matches. 

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CEO Kasi Viswanathan, however, is optimistic. “We haven’t heard anything from the IPL or from the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India). As it stands, we will be hosting the matches,” he said. 

Traditionally, the defending champion gets to host the first match, two playoffs (eliminator and second qualifier), and the final.  Incidentally, at the time of this copy of being published, the IPL website was not updated with the dates and venues of the playoffs and final. 

It was the closure of these three stands that robbed Chennai of matches in the 2016 T20 World Cup. Women’s matches, that were not televised, were played in Chennai then.  The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has to overcome several hurdles before the three stands can be thrown open to fans. 

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One of the key challenges is setback space. As many as 12 metres of the gym at the Madras Cricket Club (MCC) will have to be demolished to create eight metres of setback space between the MCC and the K stand, in accordance with Madras High Court orders. The association had approached the Greater Chennai Corporation for the same before the start of the 12th edition of the league and talks have been encouraging. However, with the final a little more than a month away, there is no luxury of time.

Complicating the issue, the lease period of the stadium too ended in April 2015, following which the TNCA requested the government for renewal of the lease for 30 years.

There was a delay on the part of the state revenue department in revising and fixing the lease rent, which resulted in the non-collection of lease rent of ₹2,081 crore for the period 2000-2016 from the TNCA and the Madras Cricket Club (MCC), according to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. 

Both the TNCA and the MCC have felt the money demanded by the state revenue department as dues was "exorbitant," and approached Madras High Court. 

The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) on Monday decided to have a word with TNCA officials before deciding on whether Chennai will host the IPL final.  On IPL match days at Chepauk, a huge CSK banner is placed near the three closed stands.