Wankhede set to get all clear signal in a week: Rajput

Updated: Feb 23, 2011, 22:50 PM IST

Mumbai: The Wankhede Stadium, which has turned into a modern high-tech cricket field with an invetsment of Rs 350 crore, is all set to get the green signal for hosting World Cup ties in a week’s time, according to an official.

Mumbai Cricket Association’s joint secretary Lalchand Rajput said things were falling in place with the procurement of clearance from the fire department and the public works department.

“We are awaiting clearance certificate from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Once we get it, we will apply for the occupancy certificate. I’m confident all these would be done within a week,” said the former India opening batsman.

Three matches, including the summit clash on April 2, are scheduled to be conducted at the re-designed stadium and one of the special features of the venue is that there are no pillars obstructing the spectators’ view, according to Rajput.

“There are no pillars in any of the stands. The bucket seats for all the spectators in the stands should make them comfortable while watching the matches. We have also paid attention to their comfort by building more toilets and food courts,” he said.

Rajput is confident that the stadium would satisfy one and all when it hosts its first tie of the mega event - a day match between New Zealand and Canada - on March 13.

The second match - a day/night fixture between New Zealand and Sri Lanka is scheduled for March 18.

“We are playing two local T20 games this week-end, including the final under lights on Sunday, before the first World Cup match,” he said.

Rajput conceded there remains a small problem of the shadow of the modern-looking roof of the stadium falling very close to the pitch area in the late afternoon.

“It happens after 4 pm,” he said.

Barren patches appeared on the outfield, beyond the 70 yard area which constitutes the playing area, but MCA officials are not worried.

“The grass would cover up that area in 8-10 days,” said an MCA official.

The MCA has taken a bank loan of Rs 150 crore for renovation work of the stadium, which was built on Lloyd’s reclamation ground in 1974 in a record six months’ time to host the final Test between India and the West Indies.

“We would get Rs 50 crore from the Cricket Board. We have already sold enough number of hospitality boxes (57 in all) which is for a period of ten years and from which we would be raising sufficient money to clear the remaining amount,” said Rajput.

Another MCA source revealed that the association has decided to retain the remaining corporate boxes for the present, as it is to host the Cup final and may need them.

Rajput said because the stadium’s capacity has been reduced from 38,000 to 31,000, the MCA’s affiliated gymkhanas and clubs, would have to be satisfied with a 40 per cent reduction in seats which are normally reserved for them as per an age-old agreement.

“We have not reduced the tickets to be sold to the general public. Three thousand tickets would be sold over the counters four-to-five days in advance of the matches, including the final,” he said.