The Wankhede Stadium at Churchgate, meant to shut down for renovation two months ago, will now probably shut down by April 2008. From then on, Mumbai’s best-known cricket stadium will be in a race to be completed in time for the One Day Cricket World Cup in 2011. Professor Ratnakar Shetty, Treasurer of Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) and Chief Administrative Officer of Board for the Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), says it will be ready six months prior to when cricketing nations come together to dethrone Australia. Excerpts from an interview:
Why the delay in starting renovation work?
Shetty: The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) needs to finalise the plans and the municipal authorities need to pass them. I see work starting on the project by April 2008.
Who is the architect?
Shetty: The architect is Shashi Prabhu who built this stadium way back in the ‘70s. The stadium was inaugurated in 1975. In fact, there are two architects working in conjunction – Shashi Prabhu and P K Das.
How is it being funded?
Shetty: From the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) coffers. The BCCI has something called an infrastructure subsidy. The BCCI will play MCA 50 per cent of the money spent on the renovation. The BCCI has a stipulation that it will pay up to Rs 50 crore maximum. I cannot say what the overall cost for the renovation would be.
Will you increase the stadium’s capacity?
Shetty: The current capacity is up to 38,000. There are restrictions in increasing capacity. The West Stand has residential buildings behind it. The East Stand touches the railway line (Churchgate Station). I envisage that both these stands might stay pretty much the way they are. One can go vertical on the North and South stand, though there are restrictions on how high the stands can go.
How would spectators benefit?
Shetty: In principle, it has been agreed that all the seating will be changed to numbered bucket seats. We are determined to make it a more comfortable experience for spectators. Drinking water facilities, toilets and food outlets at the stadium will be given special attention.
There are a number of offices and shops in the structure that are tenants. Apparently they are unhappy that they will now have to move?
Shetty: That is untrue. We had a positive and fruitful meeting with them about three weeks ago. They will be relocated or they can choose a place and let us know. In fact, they are happy, as they will shift into a better place after the renovation.
Are there any other features, like tighter security perhaps?
Shetty: There would be a focus on how to get people out of the stadium as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Which grounds will be utilized until Wankhede is ready?
Shetty: We have the Brabourne Stadium at the Cricket Club of India (CCI). There is the DY Patil Ground at Navi Mumbai and the ground at Bandra Kurla Complex.
What is the renovation deadline?
Shetty: We need to finish the stadium by September-October 2010 as International Cricket Council inspectors will be here six months prior to the World Cup to do an inspection as per the norms.