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A showpiece facility in the East
- After getting international status, Ranchi looking to become an IPL venue

Amitabh Choudhary, JSCA president, the man behind it all

Ranchi: In what could be a first for a sports administrator in the region, there are hoardings hailing Amitabh Choudhary for building a world-class stadium and bringing international cricket to Jharkhand’s capital.

Usually, it’s the politicians who dominate billboards.

Some hoardings have an ‘a’ instead of ‘u’ in the Choudhary, but the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) president, who was initially embarrassed by this act of well-wishers, is definitely not taking offence.

Choudhary is an additional director general of police and the special secretary, home, but till January 19, much of his time will be devoted to overseeing preparations for the India-England ODI and the match itself.

The ODI is going to be hosted by the JSCA International Stadium, a 40,000-capacity facility which has stunned those who’ve managed a look.

Unlike the new stadiums in Vizag, Nagpur and Pune, this one is pretty much in town and, so, returning home after a day/night engagement needn’t be challenging for those who depend on public transport.

Jamshedpur’s loss is Ranchi’s gain. Had the JSCA not been deprived of the Keenan, from 2008 onwards, the body may have gone slow on having a “home” of its own.

Indeed, the JSCA website has this from Choudhary: “Even though the Association owns its own stadium now, we must thank the Tatas, for not only providing their services all these years, but also for giving us the incentive to build our own home by denying us access to the Keenan the past few years...”

The JSCA and the Keenan haven’t staged an international match after the India-England ODI in April 2006.

Notwithstanding the bad blood, the JSCA’s registered office continues to be at the Keenan.

“There’s lots to say and write, but right now, I’d rather look ahead and have everything in place for January 19. That’s the priority,” Choudhary, a doer, told The Telegraph.

Built on land leased from the Heavy Engineering Corporation, the stadium has two ‘hills’, which is its top USP. Moreover, there’s ample space and you needn’t worry about your toes being crushed by somebody struggling to reach his/her seat.

The French canopies are an absolute wow.

In keeping with the trend, the club house and the south pavilion (at the opposite end) have as many as 72 boxes and each will be sold for between Rs 25-55 lakh for a period of 10 years.

They’re big revenue earners everywhere.

By the way, there’s a provision for around 55 rooms and suites in the club house, so the commercial bit has been thought of well.

Not that the players’ comfort has been overlooked: The Mahendra Singh Dhonis won’t have reason to complain, as the dressing rooms are massive. Plus, there’s a gym metres away.

“As of today (Friday), the entire facility has cost us Rs 180 crore... The approximate break-up being Rs 140 crore to construct the stadium proper, Rs 22 crore to build the second ground, the indoor facility, tennis courts and housing for the staff... Then, Rs 18 crore for the 90-year lease,” Choudhary revealed.

That the Board gives an “infrastructure subsidy” totalling a maximum of Rs 50 crore is, of course, extremely helpful. Besides, every affiliate gets an annual grant running into crores.

It’s big money across the board, not for the players alone.

The stadium has four gates and they could be named after legends such as Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar. Possibly Dhoni too. That Dhoni is a local can’t be ignored by the JSCA.

“We’ve been talking about it, but nothing has been finalised. In any case, the naming is something for the future, not immediately,” Choudhary pointed out.

The stadium is going to be jointly inaugurated by Jharkhand’s chief minister Arjun Munda, who has been most supportive, and Board president Narayanswamy Srinivasan, on January 17.

“We’re looking to invite former India captains, besides the presidents and secretaries of the Board’s affiliates,” informed Sanjay Singh, a JSCA vice-president.

The JSCA, meanwhile, is aspiring to become an IPL-staging centre from 2013.

“I’ve already had a word with Mr Shah Rukh Khan and some of the others associated with the Kolkata Knight Riders... I expect an even more positive response once Mr Khan and the others have actually seen our stadium,” Choudhary, who is a member of the IPL’s governing council, said.

If the Knights do play in Ranchi, then Calcutta will lose its status as the franchise’s exclusive home.

Footnote: The JSCA International Stadium is also going to house the Country Cricket Club, conceived on the lines of the iconic Cricket Club of India. It will help sustain the facility in the long run.