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Vol. XXXIII No. 3, May 16-31, 2023

The new MA Chidambaram Stadium

-- by V. Venkataramana

The pitch at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium may be a batsman’s biggest challenge, but there’s no question that it is one of the most iconic cricket venues around the globe, be it the test, ODI or T20 format of the game. MAC is high on the ICC’s list of preferred stadiums for big matches for apart from its top-notch facilities, it also draws a large crowd of cricket fans.

Established in 1916, the M.A. Chidambaram stadium is the second-oldest cricket stadium in the country after the famous Eden Gardens in Kolkata. It is the home ground of the Tamil Nadu cricket team as well as that of the IPL franchise team, the Chennai Super Kings. Chepauk hosted its first Test match on February 10, 1934, and the first Ranji Trophy match in 1936. Cricket lovers who have filled the Chepauk stands have witnessed some of the best domestic and International spectacles in the sport. The venue has hosted iconic Test matches as well as top-class domestic contests such as the aforementioned Ranji and Duleep trophy games.

Named after Chennai-based industrialist and former cricket administrator M.A. Chidambaram, the 40,000seat Chepauk stadium – as it is popularly known – has evolved through the years to better serve the game. New stands (C to K) were added at the far end of the ground in 2009 and 2010, and pillars that blocked the view gave way to bucket seats. In 2011, the press box was modernised with the addition of internet facilities and updated press conference rooms. (Incidentally, MAC would go on to make another mark in cricketing history that same year by becoming the venue to the second Tied-Test in the annals of the game.) Three new stands have been added to the Pavilion end of the ground, too, giving the Stadium a swanky look. Inaugurated by the Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, the new stands are named after former T.N. Chief Minister and cricket enthusiast M. Karunanidhi. It is said that he used to ensure he was at the venue to watch his favourite player Sachin Tendulkar in action!

As part of the latest developmental work at the Stadium, the players’ dressing rooms have also been upgraded with spacious lockers, comfortable seating at ground level and private access to the dining hall. As a veteran employee of the TNCA puts it, the dressing rooms are now a complete package. An electronic messaging board has been mounted on the walls as well, with a view to helping players in the dressing room keep a tab on the live scores. State players are reportedly proud of the upgrades, taking pride that the cricket stadium of their hometown has the best dressing room facilities for the players.

That’s not all. Spread over five levels in the new stands at the far end of the stadium are new facilities aimed at offering greater hospitality to enthusiasts. Apart from a cafeteria, there is a shiny new cricket museum, and a CSK Super Store, as well as a lobby and reception area. In a chat with Madras Musings, Joint Secretary Dr. Baba said that the sprucing up was not merely for the upcoming 50-over World Cup series – TNCA also plans to introduce a tour of the historic MAC stadium, a step towards positioning the Chepauk Stadium as one of the best cricket grounds in the world. Now that’s something for cricket buffs of every stripe to look forward to!

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