MUMBAI: Ever since the FIFA committee started inspecting potential venues for the Under-17 World Cup in India, the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai stood out. FIFA’s Head of Events Jamie Yarza had called it comparable to any big stadium in Europe or America. And it has been a benchmark against which other venues have been measured.
“This is by far the best stadium in the country at this point of time. We need to make sure that every other stadium is as good. This is the standard other stadiums have to get,” Javier Ceppi, the Tournament Director, had said when FIFA representatives visited the six finalised venues in March.
Located on the outskirts of Mumbai, DY Patil Stadium is not the most accessible. But since its inauguration in 2008, it has been regarded as one of the best sports facilities in India. With a capacity of 55,000, it has hosted prime-time cricket as well as football events. The stadium hosted the IPL final in the inaugural 2008 season. Six years later, it recorded another first, hosting the title clash of the first-ever Indian Super League, a tournament that has given Indian football a new identity.
Moreover, the venue boasts of world class facilities. In a rare experience for Mumbai sports fans, it provided parking for spectators during the IPL final and had volunteers escort them to their seats. The entire stadium has bucket seats, which have been redone for the Under-17 World Cup.
It was one of the many renovations at the stadium in preparation for the mega-tournament. The cantilever roof, fitted with fabric imported from Germany, was already one of the unique features. It not only is the largest fabric roof in India but also erases the need for columns, leaving unobstructed view for all spectators. A new fabric roof has been fitted and the turf was also relaid after the Justin Bieber concert in May.
The multi-sports complex also has two practice grounds. “We have put in a 500 KW solar plant to take care of more than 70 per cent of electrical requirements of the stadium,” DY Patil Sports Academy president Vijay Patil said last month. With the final touches put in, the venue will host Group B teams Mali, New Zealand, Paraguay and Turkey. The opening match, between New Zealand and Turkey, will take place on October 6.