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Landmark cricket stadium eyes Rs 1.5cr facelift

- Tata Steel officials promise swift front facade and gallery repairs, but fans remain sceptical

Keenan Stadium is all set to begin its second innings this New Year.

A revamped pavilion will soon welcome visitors to the fabled stadium, which has hosted several national and international matches in the past.

Sources in Tata Steel sports department said the first phase of renovation, which remained stalled for nearly three months, would resume shortly with repair of the front façade of the Old Pavilion. Utility provider Jusco has been entrusted with the revamp job.

“We are hopeful that the front facade will be repaired by the year-end. The galleries will follow suit,” said an official of the department, refusing to be named. He added that revamp work would gain momentum in the coming year.

“Renovation of Keenan Stadium is time-taking and we are very keen to help the facility regain its lost glory,” he said.

The official pointed out that new roofs over the two pavilions — Naoroji and Old — were already in place and repair of galleries would be undertaken in the next two phases.

Tall claims of sports department officials, however, ring hollow when one sees the current state of the facilities. Barring the newly installed tin roofs and fresh paint on steel pillars, both Naoroji and Old pavilions are in dire need of repairs.

Most of the galleries, on the other hand, have been declared unsafe by the sports department. Spectators are crammed into two galleries when the stadium hosts a rare match.

“We have barred entry to the galleries as they may give in anytime,” conceded an official, adding that the facilities would be opened only after the repair work was completed.

Cricket lovers of the steel city, who have watched matches at the stadium in its heydays, are growing impatient.

“Talks about refurbishing the two pavilions have been going on for some years. I have no clue how much time it will take to bring the stadium back to shape,” said Prasenjit Singh, a resident of Kadma.

Jugsalai-based cricket fan Mahesh Gupta echoed Singh. “I have not missed a single one-day international at this venue. But, the condition of the stadium has worsened post 2006. Keenan Stadium is a landmark of Jamshedpur and Tata Steel should have repaired it much earlier,” the 65-year-old said.

The steel major, however, had spruced up the facility when Delhi, with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, visited Jamshedpur to take on Jharkhand in a Ranji outing in November. The two dressing rooms were painted and new refrigerators and curtains were put up.

But, rain played spoilsport and the match was washed out.

Tata Steel has earmarked Rs 1.5 crore for the facelift of Keenan Stadium and has already released Rs 80 lakh to its sports department.

Built in 1939 and named after John Lawrence Keenan, one of the general managers of Tata Steel, the stadium was once a prime cricket venue in eastern India after Calcutta’s Eden Gardens.

The last one-day international at Keenan was between England and India on April 12, 2006, as a part of the TVS Cup series.