PUNE:Embedded in the lap of the Western Ghats, the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium cuts a pretty picture. Surroundings are appealing, with lots of greenery visible from the terraces.
Missing on the first day of the first-ever Test at this venue was an essential component. Such pieces of architecture look best when stands are full and on Thursday, just above 7000 turned up for the Test. A number of them were schoolchildren with free tickets. Capacity being 37,000, huge open spaces in the stands gave proceedings an empty look.
Reason? With municipal election results being declared, the stadium being far away from the city, lack of public transport and this being a weekday, another deterrent was the absence of roof over the stands. Hardly one-fourth of the stands have a roof and that too where daily tickets cost `1000 and 2000. The rest have to get roasted under a punishing sun.
The MCA spent a fortune in getting this swank facility in the middle of nowhere, but overlooked this aspect. “It’s terrible,” retorted Mandar, when asked about the experience of Test cricket in Pune. Speaking on either side of celebrating Umesh Yadav’s dismissal of Matthew Wade, the BBA student said, “People in areas with no stands bought fresh tickets today. How can you enjoy the match if you have to sit in the open in this heat?”
Not that these seats are cheap. Daily tickets cost `400, 600, 800, 1000, 2000. Parking space is a problem too, because almost everyone has to manage own transport. With just one service road connecting the stadium to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, leaving the stadium after ODIs and IPL matches that attract bigger numbers is also a headache.
Brainchild of former BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke, the stadium is spectator-friendly in other aspects like adequate supply of food and water at reasonable rates. To make sure that fans get to enjoy these with cricket to their money’s worth, officials better plan something to address the shed problem.