CHENNAI: Re-laying of the playing surface at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium will provide a boost for hockey players and aficianados in the city, believe sports enthusiasts.
R Gopinathan, the stadium manager, said that the re-laying of the surface started in September last year and work was completed in June 2015. “The total cost was around Rs 3.5 crore and the synthetic surface is of CC Grass. The money was provided by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT). We have also installed brand new state-of-the-art water sprinklers. The surface has been approved by the FIH (International Hockey Federation) and has a guarantee period of seven years.”
Named after the former Mayor of Madras, the stadium was constructed in 1995 at a cost of Rs 8 crore. Located in the heart of the city, the venue has a seating capacity of 8,670. The stadium has played host to the 1996 Men’s Champions Trophy, as well as the 2005 edition of the same. It was also the venue for 2007 edition of the Asian Hockey Championship.
Radhakrishnan Stadium is regarded by the International Hockey Federation as one of the best in the world for its state-of-the-art infrastructure. The playing surface was last re-laid with Polytan Grass in 2005. After the renovation drive, the stadium featured a re-laid synthetic hockey surface and floodlights of international standards.
"If used carefully, the surface can last more than seven years. But during the 2013 All India MCC Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament, many senior players complained of the uneven surface and it was decided that a new surface was required," Gopinathan told City Express.
Regarding mainteinance, he said, "The surface has to be kept dry for at least one day. On match days, lot of watering is required as the artificial grass heats up faster than natural grass. Also, it needs to be cleaned properly or it may affect the ball speed."
The stadium hosts all division matches of the Chennai Hockey Association and is the home ground of the World Series Hockey team Chennai Cheetahs. The first test of the new surface will be the 2015 edition of the Murugappa Cup starting from July 16, and Gopinathan is confident of a glitch-free competition.
"Players will enjoy playing on the new surface and we also have plans to renovate the galleries and increase the capacity, so that more hockey lovers can enjoy the sport and the game gets the fillip it deserves in the State."
Hockey has given the country the most number of international medals. The national game of the country might have been usurped of its lofty perch by cricket, but the recent performances of both the men’s and women’s national teams have paved the way for a brighter future.