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Kotla Stadium Gears Up for the World Cup: A Revamped Spectator Experience Awaits

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As one approaches the imposing gates adorned with murals featuring cricket legends Virender Sehwag and Anjum Chopra, the Arun Jaitley Stadium, better known as Kotla, presents a scene of diligent final preparations for a major event. The aroma of fresh paint, the sounds of drilling machines, and the sight of dedicated middle-aged workers diligently performing their labor-intensive tasks will greet visitors in the days leading up to the much-anticipated event. Soon, the resounding crack of bat against ball and the thunderous roar of some 35,000 cricket enthusiasts will take center stage.

The 13th edition of the One Day International (ODI) World Cup is nearly upon us, and the stadium, nestled in the heart of India’s capital city, is in the home stretch of a renovation project that commenced just over a month ago.

Delhi is set to host five World Cup matches, including India’s second game against Afghanistan on October 11. The opening fixture will see South Africa take on Sri Lanka on October 7. Additional matches scheduled at the stadium include England vs. Afghanistan on October 15, Australia vs. Netherlands on October 25, and Bangladesh vs. Sri Lanka on November 6.

For the officials at the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), the primary focus is on elevating the spectator experience in line with the guidelines set by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The ongoing enhancements include the installation of approximately 32,000 new seats, featuring striking blue, orange, and green hues. After waterproofing the stands, 56 washrooms have been refurbished, LED lighting has been installed, new turnstiles have been added, and covers capable of protecting the entire playing field have been acquired, among a host of other improvements.

“We have upped the game before the World Cup,” stated DDCA president Rohan Jaitley. “We have upgraded the seats, not just by replacing them but by repairing and waterproofing the stands before installing new seats. We have refurbished all the washrooms, and not just a few as done five years ago. They are being given a complete makeover. We are also installing sanitary dispensing machines in the women’s restrooms. Moreover, we have implemented a central air conditioning system throughout the hospitality areas.”

The DDCA expects the total cost of the renovation work to exceed ₹50 crore (approximately $6.7 million USD). Jaitley added, “This level of renovation has been carried out for the World Cup. We anticipate completing all the work by September 28. The work has been progressing at an accelerated pace, with workers present at the stadium in two separate shifts to ensure no time is wasted.”

While it remains uncertain when such extensive renovations were last undertaken, it is safe to say that the stadium has not witnessed such a transformation in over a decade. “We typically make cosmetic changes before each IPL season, but this time the aim was to create a facility that everyone can take pride in. With the World Cup and visitors from around the globe, it’s about upholding India’s prestige.”

From the perspective of fans, easy access to affordable food and water in the stands is essential. “We will offer reasonably priced food, and fans can also use free water dispensers,” Jaitley assured.

Beyond stadium enhancements, the nature of the pitches on offer is also generating considerable interest as the tournament approaches. On Monday, the pitches on the center square were covered with jute sheets until twilight.

“We have introduced two new pitches in the center square, bringing the total to nine. The practice facilities have also received upgrades. In the main practice area, there are now nine pitches, up from eight previously. In the second practice net, there are six pitches, compared to four previously,” shared Jaitley. “Andy Atkinson, the head curator of the International Cricket Council (ICC), recently visited and expressed his satisfaction.”

The Arun Jaitley Stadium is primed to deliver an enhanced and memorable experience for cricket enthusiasts and players alike as the ODI World Cup draws nearer.

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