| The Kanchenjungha Stadium after the installation of the floodlights. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Siliguri, Aug. 31: When the Federation Cup starts at Siliguris Kanchenjungha Stadium on September 20 after 17 years, floodlights will beam down on the arena for the first time.
The stadium, the second largest soccer arena in the state, is the first in north Bengal to get floodlights.
The Fed Cup is the first major football event the stadium will host after the 1995 Fed Cup.
The floodlights will be inaugurated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee tomorrow.
The last time the football lovers in Siliguri got to watch big matches was in 1995 when a handful of Federation Cup games were played at the Kanchenjungha Stadium. After 1995, we are going to organise a major tournament in Siliguri for the first time, said north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb.
The tournament will be organised by the Siliguri Mahakuma Krira Parishad in association with the All India Football Federation.
Deb is believed to have taken the initiative to allot matches to Siliguri.
Teams like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Churchill Brothers, Air India and Sporting Clube de Goa will play here. The semi-finals will be held on September 27, the final will be played on the September 30, said Deb.
All the matches will be played at the Kanchenjungha Stadium.
He added that two matches would be played a day, the second game of the day would be under floodlights.
The minister visited the ground this morning along with members of the Mahakuma Krira Parishad to inspect the floodlights.
The state sports department has spent Rs 3.5 crore to erect the floodlights.
Apart from the Kanchenjungha Stadium, Yubabharati Krirangan in Calcutta is the only other soccer stadium equipped with floodlights in Bengal. Eden Gardens too has floodlights but it is a cricket arena.
The Siliguri stadium, established in 1988, can accommodate 40,000 spectators.
The secretary of the Mahakuma Krira Parishad, Arup Ratan Ghosh, said the Federation Cup would be a major event at the Kanchenjungha Stadium after 17 years.
We expect that more tournaments will be played here, he added.
Deb said his ministry and the state sports department would together renovate the stadium at the cost of Rs 50 lakh so that more national tournaments could be played there.
The money will be used to set up good dressing rooms, a media centre and VIP pavilions. Our aim is to attract national-level soccer championships and utilise the infrastructure to nurture new talent in the region, Deb said.