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Kolkata in race against the clock

With FIFA’ final inspection due in October, the provisional venues will have to be ready and comply with the standards required for hosting an Under-17 World Cup match. When the delegation visited the facilities in February, it said major renovation work was needed at most of the six stadia. Amitabha Das Sharma checks on Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium ahead of the final inspection.

The inspection of practice facilities is only scheduled for February, 2017, and so it is expected to be ready on time.

The Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), more popularly the Salt Lake Stadium, will be nearly ready in its new avatar when a FIFA delegation comes calling in the last week of October. Aiming to host the final in addition to a few league matches, the State Government launched an ambitious plan to renovate the facility.

The State government has already spent more than Rs. 60 crore on renovation and employed additional personnel in an effort to complete it on time. The venture will reduce the seating capacity to from 1,20,000 to 83,000, but VYBK CEO Jyotishman Chattopadhyay is convinced that the stadium will be on par with the best football grounds in the world when it hosts the Under-17 FIFA World Cup matches late next year.

The stadium has already re-grown natural turf and work is on to install bucket-seats on the concrete ramps. “We have asked the PWD to complete the process by September 30 (2016). I am hopeful that most of the work will be complete before the October inspection,” Chattopadhyay said. Since FIFA has been insisting on stadiums being energy-efficient, the turf was re-laid with provisions for the storage of rain water. Apart from bucket seats, the stadium will have modernised locker rooms, jacuzzi and ice-baths for players.

“The look of the stadium will change drastically. I can say the transformation will be around 70 per cent compared to what it was before,” Chattopadhyay said. “There will be multiple stages of inspections done by different FIFA teams. One will happen in October this year before another in February 2017. The stadium will be finally handed over to FIFA in August 2017.”