Cricket stadiums in India are generally named after politicians and administrators. Hence, Pune’s latest cricket ground — Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium — comes under the ‘unique’ category. After all, Roy is a corporate biggie, whose firm owns Indian Premier League outfit Pune Warriors.
Before Maharashtra Cricket Association joined hands with Sahara to realise Pune’s stadia dreams, international games were held at the Nehru Stadium which hosted 11 one-day internationals over a 19-year period from 1984 to 2005.
How was the Pune stadium named after Roy? “When Maharashtra Cricket Association wanted to have a stadium with international facilities, Sahara Group was approached and Mr Roy agreed to start the venture with a proper contract in place. After that, we built the stadium covering an area of almost 35 acres,” a Sahara official told MiD DAY.
It is learnt that Sahara India Parivar, until recently, the main sponsor of the Indian team, invested more than Rs 300 crore to build the stadium which was inaugurated by International Cricket Council (ICC) president Sharad Pawar. Sahara and the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) entered into an agreement when the Maharashtra cricket body was in search for a venue to stage international matches after Pune had to lose a one-day international between India and Sri Lanka back in 2007 due to a tiff with the Municipal Corporation over ticket allocation at the Nehru Stadium.
“I am honoured but at the same time embarrassed. I had long discussions with the MCA (Maharashtra Cricket Association) and the BCCI regarding the name of the stadium. I wanted the name of the stadium to be the named after the company, but the rule books did not allow. Due to this I had to reluctantly agree to my name,” Roy was quoted as saying by The Indian Express recently.
Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium was named after a former politician in 1974, but he was also a leading cricket administrator at the time. He headed the Mumbai Cricket Association even when it functioned at the Cricket Club of India. Bangalore (Chinnaswamy) and Chennai (M A Chidambaram) have stadiums named after their much-revered administrators. Former Mumbai Cricket Association secretary Vilas Godbole told MiD DAY yesterday: “This stadium wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of Mr Wankhede. So the general body was unanimous that the stadium be named after him.”
What’s in a name?
Interestingly, seven cricket stadiums in India were named after Jawaharlal Nehru - in New Delhi, Chennai, Guwahati, Indore, Kochi, Margao and Pune. Two – in Jalandhar and Amritsar were named after Mahatma Gandhi. The stadium in Hyderabad is called the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium while Vijaywada has a stadium in honour of Indira Gandhi.