For ardent sports fans, the sheer thrill of watching their favourite team play is a feeling that is often unmatchable. There is no better place for this feeling to transpire into something real than in the numerous stadiums across the world that players and fans connect to share a bond unlike any other. India has continued to develop its sporting infrastructure and whether it be a corporate strategy or a motive to bring the passion for sports back home, there are numerous stadiums across the country that have helped provide this very passion for people to immerse themselves in. We take a look at the largest stadiums in the country that have housed thousands of fans and have given them memories to last for a lifetime.
1) Sardar Patel Stadium – Ahmedabad
This mammoth sports stadium houses approximately 110,000 individuals at the same time. Owned by the Gujarat Cricket Association, it came into existence in 1983 after a generous donation by the Gujarat government of approximately 100 acres of land. It has been the venue for multiple Test matches, ODI’s and T20’s and has hosted the ICC Champions trophy, the 1996 World Cup, and the 2011 World Cup throughout its existence. A unique feature is instead of floodlights, this stadium has LED lights installed on the roof which is a definite change from the normal sight seen in other stadiums. It is an earthquake-proof structure that has been designed to allow free access and unrestricted movement around the seating area. Its capacity knows no limits and it has been used for all kinds of major events, the most recent of all being for ‘Namaste Trump’.
2) Salt Lake City Stadium – Kolkata
For football lovers, there can be no better atmosphere than a packed stadium celebrating a goal. When the voices of around 85000 people echo around you after a goal is scored, you know that the stadium is in none other than the Salt Lake City stadium. Currently host to 4 teams namely Mohun began, East Bengal, ATK, and Mohammedan, it first opened in 1984 and had the distinguished record of being the second-largest stadium in the world for a long time until a timely renovation brought its seating capacity from 1,20,000 to 85,000. It has been renovated at the cost of 14 million USD and includes features such as an all-natural three-layered grass pitch, multiple VIP boxes, an additional several thousand bucket seats as seating as well as practice pitches amongst many other features. It has played host to the finals and opening matches of several tournaments such as the FIFA under 17 World Cup, ISL, and even friendly exhibition matches. For Indian football fans and especially those in Kolkata, Salt Lake City stadium is truly their place of worship.
3) Eden Gardens
Kolkata Night Riders fan have their abode of 68,000 seats at the Eden Gardens. However, this stadium goes back to 1964. Since then, it has served the Indian cricketing community well with historic performances and moments such as the last over thriller between England and Australia in the 1987 World Cup, Harbhajan’s hat-trick v Australia in 2001, Sourav Ganguly’s first and last century, etc. Eden Gardens is the oldest cricket stadium in India and has often been referred to as” cricket’s answer to the Colosseum”. Its deafening volumes inside the stadium with a packed crowd is something that many players have noticed and been a part of. This noise is symbolic of the love for the game that resonates across India and gives it the name of the “Mecca” of Indian cricket.
4) Raipur Cricket Stadium
Another tier 2 city that has seen exponential growth in infrastructure and investment especially in the sporting arena, the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Stadium located in Raipur was inaugurated in 2008 with a seating capacity of 65,000. Incidentally, the first match played here was between the Canadian National Team and the Chhattisgarh state team back in 2010. Since 2010, it has hosted several IPL matches and is most notably the second home ground of Delhi Daredevils. The stadium has brought about major recognition to the state of Chhattisgarh and aims to build on the growing sporting fervor in the state by providing such facilities.
5) Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium – New Delhi
A stadium that came under the scanner during the Commonwealth Games 2010, the JNU stadium is one that is a multi-purpose arena that has hosted several National and International tournaments after its inauguration in 1982. It has a seating capacity of 60,000 and is the 4th largest in India. Over the past decade, it has played host to the Delhi Dynamos, FIFA Under 17 world cup and is to be used for the upcoming Under 17 Women’s World Cup as well. It includes a 10 lane Synthetic Olympic level running track, warm-up tracks, practice areas for Lawn Bowls, and a synthetic grass field. This stadium also witnessed the farewell of Indian legend Baichung Bhutia against Bayern Munich as well as the first-ever goal scored by an Indian player in a FIFA tournament when Jeakson Singh scored against Columbia during the Under 17 World Cup.
6) EMS Stadium – Kohzikode
The second 60,000-seater in this category, Kerala is one amongst the many states in India that has a knack for football. Originally inaugurated in 1977, this stadium currently belongs to Kerala I League side Gokulum Kerala FC. It has often been touted as one of the best football stadiums in India solely for its pitch and playing facilities.
The 1980 Women’s Asia Cup and the 1987 Nehru Cup were both played at this venue, the former of which saw India claim a silver. The stadium is not just designed to host football matches and the ground can be doubled up and formed into a cricket pitch in the event of requirements.
7) DY Patil Stadium
The comparative capacity of this stadium might be low with relation to the monstrosities across India, but the multi-management of the stadium is one that is unmatchable across India. One often gets confused when referring to this stadium as a cricket or football ground but either way, this 55,000-seater has played host to all kinds of events. The Under 17 Men’s World Cup, ISL, IPL, and the forthcoming Under 17 Women’s World Cup will also be played at this venue.
The stadium provides for an impressive view inside with the presence of its cantilever roof, one of the many features that are present in the stadium. There are around 9 tennis courts, an Olympic size swimming pool, and 4 badminton courts along with the main pitch. The infrastructure is top-notch and apart from the regular sporting events, the stadium plays host to numerous music and cultural concerts as well.
8)Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium – Hyderabad
This relatively new stadium is the base for the Hyderabad Sunrisers and the Hyderabad Cricket Association. It has a capacity of 55,000 and was originally made to propel Hyderabad into the cricket circle of India and has since been at the forefront of several international and domestic matches. It is known to be a ‘high scoring’ stadium but has also transformed Hyderabad into a cricketing hub with the stadium winning the prize for the best pitch in the IPL 2019.
9) MA Chidambaram- Chennai
With the first official test match being played in 1934, this 50,000-seater stadium has been witness to countless match-winning knocks and heartbreaks on the field. The crowd while being a raucous bunch has always been extremely appreciative of its opponents with landmark moments being the applause given to the Pakistani team after their victory over India in 1999 and an ovation for Saed Anwar’s performance back in 1997. It is this very passion for the sport that makes up this remarkable stadium originally built in 1916 as the Madras Cricket Club and later renamed after the former BCCI Chairman, M.A Chidambaram. Chennai Super Kings has its base in the ground and their fans have several fond memories over the past few years.
10) Feroz Shah Kotla – New Delhi
Also known as Arun Jaitley stadium, it was on this very ground that Anil Kumble took his famous 10/74 figure back in 1999. It’s historical connect, location, and landmark moments have all been witnessed by the 48,000 odd fans who can catch a glimpse of their cricketing stars during frequent ODI’s and T20 matches that are held here. It was originally established as the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in 1883 and is the second oldest active cricket ground in India after Eden Gardens.