Cricket fans in Chennai have to wait a little longer for the I, J, and K stands at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium to reopen. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association was hard-pressed to throw open the I, J, and K stands to the public for the India-West Indies ODI on December 15.
The three stands, along with the vacant Madras Cricket Club stand, widely known as Chepauk, have been closed for more than half-a-decade, barring a lone exception — an India versus Pakistan game in 2012.
The Chennai Corporation closed these three stands, with a capacity of more than 12,000, as there were discrepancies when the stadium was reconstructed before the World Cup in 2011.
While the TNCA has acquired the Government Order (GO) to renew the venue’s lease for the next 21 years, and the TNCA Club has paid all the arrears— ₹19.16 crore for the association and ₹2.18 crore for the TNCA Club — the board is still waiting for the Madras Cricket Club (MCC) to pay nearly ₹11 crore to the State Government.
TNCA secretary R.S. Ramaswamy said, “The lease arrears have been cleared. The documentation process should be completed by the next couple of days. After that, we wait for the MCC.”
One of the disputes was regarding the gymnasium at the MCC. The Madras High Court had earlier ordered that 12 metres of the gym needed to be pulled down to create eight metres of space between the MCC and the ‘K’ stand. But with parts of the Club having been declared heritage structures by Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), it was difficult to create space.
The MCC will now need to approach the Corporation for permission to create the needed setback space between the Club and the stand. Once the permission is given, the TNCA will approach the High Court for the reopening of stands.
Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) media manager RN Baba said, “The ball is in the MCC’s court. They have to conduct the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and then they have to decide to demolish the gym. So it will take time. We are not looking at any deadline or anything. We are expecting to hear good news from the MCC anytime now. As soon as they are ready to carry out the demolition, we are good to go.”
Ramasamy was however optimistic that the stands wouldn’t stay closed much longer. “The target is the IPL (Indian Premier League). Should be done by January end or so. On our side, we are ready.”