After a long wait, the iconic M.A. Chidambaram Stadium will sport a swanky look with new stands at the pavilion end of the ground.
The stadium underwent redevelopment in 2009 and 2010, with new stands (C to K) on the far end of the ground and near the square boundaries. The old cauldron with view-blocking pillars gave way for stands with bucket seats and gaps between them to let the sea breeze in.
However, before the pavilion end of the stadium could be renovated, legal troubles surrounding the I, J & K stands meant work could not be carried out for nearly a decade.
On Friday, that last vestige of the old ground will give way when the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin inaugurates the new stands ahead of the third ODI between India and Australia on March 22.
For the players, there will be spacious dressing rooms, a gym and an indoor nets facility on the first floor above the pavilion.
The rest of the stadium has also been given a facelift along with the new galleries for a better spectator experience, including wheelchair access at the I-Lower stand.
A key person behind this renovation project is former TNCA president Ms. Rupa Gurunath, now the Infrastructure Committee chairperson.
“After the I, J & K stands issue was sorted out and the lease renewed, we demolished the old structure in Dec. 2021, and work began in April last year. It began slowly, but we have sped it up in the last couple of months, and we are here in mid-March, almost ready,” said Rupa, the first woman to head a State cricket association.
A striking aspect of the stadium will be a museum which will showcase the history of the hallowed turf.
“When you go the world over, you get museum tours of the stadium, and we decided we must have one here. Apart from that, we will have a Chennai Super Kings superstore and a place with other memorabilia. We will have a professional guide and eventually audio headsets in at least three languages,” she explained.
The stadium will also sport artwork and murals on the walls featuring iconic games played at the venue, including the famous 1986 tied Test between India and Australia.
“The goal was always to open up for the IPL, and if we got a match earlier, we said we have to be ready. People worked around the clock, and it was a complete team effort. I think it is something that the city can be proud of,” added Rupa.
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