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A stadium's new face - COMB - The Hindu

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A stadium's new face

April 24, 2006 00:00 IST Updated: March 23, 2012 12:50 IST

ON A NEW TRACK Rapid progress Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

April 24, 2006 00:00 IST Updated: March 23, 2012 12:50 IST more-in

Once the new synthetic surface is in place in Nehru Stadium, there's just no stopping Coimbatore from being the place to host big meets, writes Rayan Rozario

I am sure that within three years, the city will see a much better response from its athletes in various meets C. K. Valsan Area Technical Official (Asia), IAAF Nehru Stadium, the pride of the South, will throw open its spanking new synthetic surface to sports lovers in the next couple of months.The base and the first phase of the Water Bound Macadam (surface strengthening) laying works are over and the contractors are now working on the second and third layers. Once through, the asphalt surface will be laid, followed by the installation of the synthetic surface, says C. K. Valsan, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Area Technical Official from Asia.About 50 per cent of the work has been completed in just over three months. Have they rushed through things? "Not at all. They have done a fairly decent job and there's no room for complaint," says Valsan. The expert says the synthetic to be installed is not a pre-fabricated version. "It's full polyurethane; quite expensive and the latest. Coimbatore is really lucky.""The big advantage is that it helps in high-quality performances. The surface is also injury-safe as it takes less strain. In India, very few stadia can boast of such a surface," he adds.How about the outer area of the track? "If soil is going to be spread, its life will be reduced. Korean grass will be ideal but it must be spread across the entire outer area," says K. Devadass, the National Technical Official of the athletic federation.He says the stadium here is suitable for hosting top-level meets. "Unlike Madurai, the Coimbatore stadium is a closed one. With sports loving people and corporate houses backing it, the city is no doubt the best place to host big meets. The pleasant weather and availability of water are also key factors."

Warming up

Valsan says installing a synthetic surface alone will not suffice. "A good warm-up area is a must. Sanctioning money is easy but planning is very important. The government has invested close to Rs. 2.5-crore on this; so, if you don't have a warm-up place close to the stadium, it will not serve the purpose. A four-lane synthetic surface is more than sufficient."He says that the other major requirement is an entry point for athletes. "The stadium was constructed for football, and so, there's entry only for spectators. Breaking down the wall of one area can solve most of the problems. We have voiced our views to the Member Secretary of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu in Chennai, Apoorva, and she has promised to do whatever best she can."Besides these two, the areas that need to be looked into are rooms for players, referees, jury of appeal, photo-finish, dope testing officials, media personnel, equipment storage and conferences, to name a few. "There are so many things necessary for a stadium. The SDATN must find a way to provide all these. Even a mega electronic display board will do a world of good. If cricket is popular, it is because of its various strategies. For instance, every move on the field is captured electronically. The same can be done for athletics and it can be made popular. When you are already spending so much, an extra crore might not pose a problem. After all, it's an asset," says Valsan.

Ideas from another era

The expert's views on the infrastructural needs may sound good, but M. Abdul Jabbar, Stadium Engineer, had proposed similar things in the 1970s. A two-tier accommodation was initially planned, with the first providing space for 30,000 spectators and the second, with escalator facilities, to accommodate an additional 15,000 people. Provisions were also made for dressing rooms, conference hall, cloakrooms, bath facilities for players and athletes, a mini hospital and many more. A tunnel was even planned from the main entrance to take the athletes to the stadium without disturbing the track events. Also, for the construction of indoor games hall, swimming pool, ticket booths, electronic scoreboard, canteen room, public telephone booth and press and tele-printer service rooms. But nothing came up because only commercial establishments made the best use of the stadium's outer ring. Will something happen this time around? One has to wait and see.The Track and Field manual of the IAAF says that since synthetic surfaced athletic tracks represent considerable financial investment, it is only natural that they are put to the best possible use. This means that their use for training purposes should be actively encouraged. The life of the surface depends on the level of usage. Contradicting this, Valsan says: "Once the synthetic surface is installed, it becomes a competition area. Regular practice can only lead to problems in the shin and other areas."For the record, the last time Nehru Stadium played host to a big meet (the Circuit Meet) was in 1995. "We should make sure that we have regular meets because that may lead to better results. I am sure that within three years, the city will see a much better response from its athletes in various meets," he concludes.

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