CHENNAI: The renowned MA Chidambaram Stadium will soon have a new design. The construction on the stadium’s south side, where the heritage block once stood, is almost finished. By next week, if everything goes according to plan, it ought to be prepared for the inauguration. A different vibe was present when walking around the stadium.
The sun is shining brightly and fiercely down on Marina Beach, signalling the start of summer. As you go down Walajah Road and enter the grounds of the MA Chidambaram Stadium, the sea wind is still mild and provides relief from the oppressive sun. On one side, the inside appears to be a completely different cosmos, serene and green, while on the other, things differ slightly. The renovation work is taking place there, and one can observe workers on every floor moving quickly while oblivious to the heat and dust. To finish the renovations in the southern end of the stadium, they are working at a leisurely pace every day.
The custodian of the stadium, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, is working to finish things as soon as feasible. They must fulfil a deadline, after all. Until March 17, when the stands will be formally opened, the TNCA is certain that everything will be ready.
Both MK Stalin, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, and Udhayanidhi Stalin, the minister for youth welfare and sports development, will participate in the ceremonies.
The third One Day International between India and Australia will be played at the venue less than a week after it opens, on March 22, and will be followed by home games for the Chennai Super Kings during the Indian Premier League.
“The pavilion work is done,” TNCA treasurer TJ Srinivasaraj says. “Final work is going on in the roof of the stands and it will be done in a week. The infrastructure committee, headed by (former TNCA president) Rupa Gurunath, have taken care of everything. Everyone is working round the clock and the ground will be ready on time.”
The second-oldest cricket venue in the nation, Chepauk, was built in 1916, and it is rich in heritage. The most recent restoration took place prior to the 2011 ODI World Cup. The field has seen numerous changes over the years. The old Anna Pavilion and Madras Cricket Club building, which has a dilapidated concrete roof and enormous pillars, will be replaced during the ongoing construction with a cutting-edge dressing room and corporate boxes. That, however, is not all.
“We are going to have a TNCA museum, with old photos and reports. The Chepauk ground has seen some historic cricketing moments, including the first Ranji match, accessories of English cricketers who played before independence, etc. There will also be a CSK museum and a cafeteria on the ground floor where the general public can come during their leisure time on non-match days,” says Srinivasraj.
The TNCA has added a few extra restrooms throughout the stadium and will operate free RO drinking water kiosks at various locations on match days in order to improve the spectators’ comfort while they are at the stadium.
Moreover, the stadium’s capacity is scheduled to rise, with a full house holding roughly 38–38,500 people.
Chepauk will be at full capacity for the first time in a number of years in the city. But, this year could be unique, especially for the adopted son of the city and captain of CSK MS Dhoni, as the IPL is returning to Chennai after a four-year absence.
“The CSK team is practising here and so is Dhoni. In the last IPL, he had said that it would be unfair not to say thank you to Chennai. And he will be playing in Chepauk after four years. Chepauk will have full capacity, we expect a full crowd this time.”
It makes sense that everyone inside the stadium is working nonstop despite the heat. All the effort is worthwhile when Chepauk is crowded with supporters of India and CSK.
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