Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Bangalore Football Stadium is probably the oldest in an incomplete state

Aniruddha Chowdhury.

SS ShreekumarFirst Published : 04 Nov 2009 04:01:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 04 Nov 2009 10:58:06 AM IST
BANGALORE: The Bangalore Football Stadium is probably the oldest in an incomplete state for the past 50 years or more. At long last, the venue enters its final phase of completion with the southern end to get its stands with a FIFA Academy to be housed in it. Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa is to lay the foundation stone with the AIFF president and Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel to grace the occasion. Once the galleries come up, floodlights at the four corners will see the venue take its final and re-designed shape.
The construction work began in 1967 with the eastern stands being completed in 1970-71. FIFA President Joao Havelange visited Asia and India and made a trip to Bangalore to inaugurate work on the main stands. Havelange was so impressed with the plans for the stadium that he promised to send teams from South America to play here.
It was to be a stadium with a 90,000 crowd capacity with a three-tier stand structure all around, modelled on the lines of the old Maracana Stadium in Brazil which had a capacity for 2,50,000 spectators. But delay in construction saw the costs shooting up.
Some corrupt elements in the game’s administration made matters worse.
There was pilferage of cement and steel meant for the stadium. The costs shot up even more and the state body was left without necessary funds. The state government even ordered an enquiry with the then PAC chairman Ekanthayya heading it. But the result of the enquiry was not made public more so as some of those corrupt elements were no more.
A sub-leasing proposal was made to raise funds. The two corner plots were given away to a private builder for a song. The agreement was signed for Rs 1 crore to be given to the association for a lease period of 88 years. After his own buildings came up, the worthy earns Rs 1 crore every month. The northern portion then came up.
The delay cost the association dearly as the highest portion of the man stands became weak and after a technical study report, it was demolished as it was unsafe for use.
In the meanwhile, the southern portion was occupied by slum dwellers and they refused to vacate. The portion became infested with anti-social elements and footballers found it difficult to even bring the ball back once it landed there behind the goalposts. Despite High Court orders, the area was not vacated as some officials had selfinterest in their continuation.
The 1996-97 National Games came as a God-sent opportunity to have the slums vacated. Even then, the organisers intended to conduct football in Mysore. But the then AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi made it clear to the state government that unless the slums are cleared, there will no football event. With the High Court orders also in place, the slums were finally cleared.
Yet, it has taken more than a decade for the association to build the stands and complete the stadium. Football activity has been badly hampered due to the non-completion of the venue.
In fact, the Federation Cup and Super Soccer Series have been held at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in the past. The Asian Under-16 tournament and the World Cup qualifiers in 2000 and the Asia Cup group matches in 2007 were conducted at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
At long last, there are signs of completion of the football stadium.

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