Intercontinental Cup: Ahmedabad's EKA Arena's first tryst with international football

Built in 2017, the EKA Arena — India’s most spectator-friendly ground — is also India’s most technologically advanced stadium.

The EKA Arena had hosted Chennaiyin FC’s AFC Cup group-stage matches earlier this year. Here, Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes a view of the arena in June, 2017, when it was newly inaugurated.   -  PTI

Ahmedabad’s EKA Arena will host its first international football fixture when the Indian national team takes on Tajikistan in the opening clash of the Intercontinental Cup 2019 on July 7. Built in 2017, the EKA Arena — India’s most spectator-friendly ground — is also India’s most technologically advanced stadium.

With a seating capacity of 20,000, it might not be the largest arena, but it makes up for it with its superior facilities. This FIFA standard football stadium holds Bermuda grass, has an automatic irrigation system that mainly functions on recycled water, and the pitch is at an elevation of 4.8 metres, giving fans a feeling that they are closer to the pitch than ever.

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Indian Super League side Chennaiyin FC had played its Asian Football Confederation Cup group stage matches at the EKA Arena this year, and the organisers received encouraging feedback from the fans. Many travelling Chennaiyin fans said they were thrilled by the proximity of the stands to the pitch and the facilities.

 

Udit Sheth, the founder, and managing director says: “This is the ‘happiness sector.’ We focus on the quality and experience and that’s what our USP is.” He goes on to add that “this was the first piece of land in Gujarat that was allotted without a tender or bidding.”

Another interesting aspect about the facility is it can be converted from an outdoor stadium to an indoor arena in six minutes. If you were at the stadium, you would notice a hollow space behind one of the goals. That area is called the convention centre and can be converted to an indoor stadium.

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Using a patented technology called StadiArena, a push of a button sees shutters drop and within a span of a few minutes, you now have a massive air-conditioned indoor arena that can seat close to 4,000 people. Adding to this is that is completely pillar-less, further enhancing the viewing experience. The indoor facility was most notably used to host the matches of local Pro Kabaddi League team Gujarat FortuneGiants.

 

Right above the indoor arena is a six-storeyed structure that hosts 16 sports, including a roof-top swimming pool and tennis court, making it a complete sporting destination.

Hosting its second football tournament of the year, the EKA Arena — which is also among Asia’s most technologically superior stadiums — is expected to soon become one of India’s most sought-after footballing venues.