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Stadium on a deadline

Ranchi, Dec. 2: Ranchi Rhinos kept the winner’s trophy home at the maiden Hero Hockey India League (HIL) final this February, but the capital’s Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Morabadi must gear up to prove a winner before hosting the mega HIL-2 starting January 2014.

Left red-faced by HIL tournament director Todd Faulds pointing out “black spots” on the multi-crore turf and being handed a to-do list by Hockey Jharkhand, sports minister Geetashree Oraon has rapped out a December 31 deadline to her officials to lick the stadium into shape before hosting key HIL-2 matches.

Though the month-long HIL-2 will take off on January 25 in Mohali, from January 26 onwards, Ranchi will host most matches, including the penultimate ones and the grand finale.

In November, HIL-2 created a buzz for its recent tie-up with Yes Bank and a glittering player auction in New Delhi. German superstar Moritz Fürste will continue to captain Ranchi Rhinos in the second season.

Ranchi Rhinos apart, there will be five more teams in HIL-2, Kalinga Lancers being the new addition.

As HIL-2 gets bigger and better, its association with Ranchi will not just increase the prestige of the state in India and abroad but also the visibility of Jharkhand’s own hockey players.

But the Morabadi venue, built during the 34th National Games, needs to get worthy of HIL-2.

Last week, HIL tournament director Faulds sounded concerned over the “black spots on the turf”, which was reported widely in the media.

Treasurer of Hockey Jharkhand Suresh Kumar told The Telegraph today that they persuaded sports department officials to visit the stadium on November 30 to take stock of the situation. Hockey Jharkhand gave the state sports department a to-do list on the same day.

While the blackened Astroturf surface can’t be changed due to time and money constraints, major tasks to be done include changing goalposts, servicing high-mast lights, repairing dressing rooms and lavatories and setting up extra toilets on the upper tier of the main building.

These jobs are expected to incur over Rs 5 lakh.

“We gave a written proposal to the sports department about the jobs. We hope repair works begin at the earliest. Goalposts are the worst hit, they are broken or bent and they require immediate repair,” Kumar said.

The goalposts were installed before 34th National Games, Kumar added.

“It doesn’t look good when international players play here and goalposts are dented or broken. Tentatively, their repair will cost anywhere between Rs 1.5-2 lakh,” he said.

“No servicing has been done since high-mast lights were put up before National Games in early 2011. Naturally, the intensity of light reduces with continuous usage over years,” he added.

On why new toilets were needed, he said the upper tier of the main building had a seating capacity of 1,800 but not a single washroom.

“We have even shown sports officials the place where permanent toilets can be set up easily,” Kumar said. “Although the minister has assured us that repairs would be done by month-end, we hope the department does not drag the jobs till the last moment, leading to chaos,” he said.

Minister Oraon didn’t respond to repeated calls. Deputy director of sports department Ravi Ranjan, also in-charge of Sports Authority of Jharkhand confirmed the formal proposal for repair and deadline. “Department engineers are evaluating the tasks now after which work will kick off A.S.A.P.,” Ranjan said.