Colosseum in Cradle: India’s largest hockey stadium in Sundargarh

Cranes lifting heavy material, dusty roads leading to the construction site, people in safety vests and helmets going about their work amid piles of sand and cement scattered everywhere.

There are many indications that the construction of the country’s largest ice hockey stadium is in full swing.

In January next year, the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Odisha’s tribal-dominated Sundargarh neighborhood will be packed to the rafters during the FIH Men’s Hockey World Championship.

Up to 20,000 fans will be cheering on the Indian ice hockey team as they ride high on the success of the Tokyo Olympics and will not only try to improve on the quarter-finals at the 2018 edition in Bhubaneswar but also win the flagship event.

Work on the stadium on the outskirts of Rourkela began in June last year and has been ongoing around the clock as officials struggle to finish it on time.

It usually takes around 18 to 24 months to build a stadium of this size.

“But we designed and planned it in such a way that we can save time on the design and the conventional component,” said Swagat Singh, Infrastructure Advisor to the Department of Sport.

The executive agency for the 200-crore stadium is Odisha’s Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation, which has leased the work to Larsen and Toubro.

The 80-crore shelter near the practice site is being run by another contractor and the deadline is in October, the official said.

The 35-acre site includes the stadium and accommodations on the 120-acre Biju Patnaik University of Technology campus.

“It is India’s largest ice hockey stadium. We also believe it is the largest in the world, but have yet to get that confirmation from the FIH,” he told a group of journalists on the ground, 293km northwest of the capital Bhubaneswar.

Singh exuded confidence that the work would be completed in time for August.

“Nearly 50-60 percent of the work is complete,” he told PTI.

The number of employees is around 400. Due to the scorching heat of the last few weeks, watering is done at night and preparation is made in the morning.

By the end of this month, the entire shell will be finished. Once the shell is complete, the craftsmen begin the finishing touches.

There are many unique features of this project, one of which is that it is a disabled friendly stadium.

“Other stadiums have multiple floodlights, but we incorporate them into the building itself so they don’t detract from the aesthetic,” Singh said.

The coliseum-like structure is continuous, making it more functional in terms of viewing.

Singh stressed that no matter what gallery or angle a viewer is sitting on, you get a clear picture without any obstruction of view.

The pitch has a larger run-off area, the official said, expressing hope that many World Cup games would be played there, the planning of which is not yet complete.

There will be light projections and the facade has been designed to integrate cultural aspects of the region.

Wall art and murals will also be there. It will be a fusion of culture and heritage, Singh said.

Just like the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee in Los Angeles, the administration had planned to write Rourkela on the lush green and picturesque Durgapur Hills that overlook and traverse one side of the stadium.

“But there are some technical and stability issues,” said Additional District Judge Subhankar Mohapatra. “We’re still trying hard.”

Before the World Cup, the Fdration Internationale de Hockey (FIH) will certify whether they have met all the standards.

He shared that they plan to hold a pro league at the end of October that will serve as a testing event.

After the World Cup, the government is considering converting the entire complex into an academy so that it remains a benchmark.

Sundargarh is considered the cradle of Indian ice hockey, which has produced, among others, Dilip Tirkey, Amit Rohidas and Birendra Lakra. From children to the elderly, there is a lot of sports madness in the region.

Therefore, the state government wants to have a footprint in the neighborhood because it wants to give it to the local population, Singh emphasized.

“A lot of kids here would rather hold a hockey stick than a cricket bat.

(Only the headline and image of this report may have been edited by the staff at Business Standard; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Cheryl Tenny

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