A decision has been reached to give Ambedkar Stadium near the KSRTC bus a facelift and dedicate it to the football, complete with international facilities.

An agreement between the stadium owner Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) and the Kerala Football Association (KFA) will be signed at the GCDA Conference Hall on Thursday.

GCDA chairman N. Venugopal said the stadium would be given on lease to KFA for a period of 20 years for organising football games and coaching camps. The stadium will be initially leased for Rs. 50,000 a year, which will be enhanced by 15 per cent every three years.

The move comes as a big relief for KFA after the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) took the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium on lease from GCDA. KFA could organise the recent friendly international match between India and Palestine and the Santhosh Trophy tournament there thanks to the benevolence of KCA. However, the stadium was out of bounds for KFA before and during the Ranji season and one day international matches.

KFA will be responsible for laying the turf and setting up floodlights and other infrastructural facilities. KFA should also meet the service charge and power and water bills. However, GCDA will help elevate the ground for laying the turf and construct the gallery.

The gallery will have a seating capacity for 1,000. The local area development fund of Hibi Eden, MLA, will also be utilized for the purpose. Thirty-nine shop owners affected by the demolition of the existing gallery will be rehabilitated in the seven-storied building to be constructed on the northern side of the stadium.

The new design for the stadium has already been submitted to Kochi Corporation. Mr. Venugopal said tender proceedings will be initiated as soon as approval is received. The construction will be completed within one-and-a-half years, he said.

The stadium will come in handy for organising inter-district and university-level contests, football camps, and international-level training. The stadium will be released exclusive use of KFA for 200 days in a year. GCDA can use it for football-related events during the rest of the year.

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