In a move that says that the FIFA U17 World Cup is drawing closer, the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata has been handed over to the local organising committee for the upcoming tournament. The procedure was completed when the principal secretary of Sports, SA Baba and the tournament director of the local organising committee Javier Ceppi signed a document under the watchful eyes of Sri Aroop Biswas- the state sports minister.
What the symbolic “hand over” entailed was explained by the tournament director. “It means we now take certain responsibilities and decisions regarding the last phase of rectification and work so that the stadium becomes perfectly operational for the tournament,” he said. “We will make sure that the stadium is fully ready with regard to safety, security and comfort for all,” he added.
Javier Ceppi was more than impressed by the arrangements of the newly renovated stadium. According to a statement to The Times of India, Ceppi was quoted as calling the stadium “a 10”.
Over the past few months, a whopping Rs 100 crore has been spent on converting the stadium into a proper, state of the art facility that is worthy of hosting a FIFA tournament. The Salt Lake Stadium will be the venue for 10 matches including the final on October 28.
The seating capacity of the stadium has been reduced to around 80,000 due to the introduction of bucket seats. However, to avoid stampedes and other laxes in security, the official capacity for the matches will only be 66,687.
When asked whether the Salt Lake Stadium was all set to be the best stadium among all the venues in the country, Ceppi had a diplomatic reply. “All six are like our kids, it is impossible to decide which one is the best,” he said.
“You can see this stadium looks nothing like it used to before. That is because the stadium needed to be fit to host a World Cup final, the most important football match to be hosted in India,” Ceppi added.
“Fantastic work has been done and now the stadium can be compared to any other stadium in the world that has hosted a Fifa World Cup final.”
It is expected that a box office for on-spot ticket sales may not be set up after all. Online sales of the tickets have proved to exceed expectations.
The Yuva Bharati Kridangan or the Salt Lake Stadium will be handed back to the State Government a day after the finals. Indian Super League and I League matches are expected to resume at the venue from the next season.