2023 ICC World Cup venues | M.A. Chidambaram Stadium — capacity, pitch info and all you need to know

The pitch at Chepauk consists of clay and red soil. In recent times, it has helped spinners, but has also been a true surface for batters.

September 29, 2023 04:00 pm | Updated 04:57 pm IST

A view of the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

A view of the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai will host five matches, including India’s opening game against Australia on October 8. The last match at the venue, featuring South Africa and Pakistan, will be held on October 27. Incidentally, India and Australia met at the same venue for their first match of the Reliance ODI World Cup in 1987. It was also the first ever ODI in Chennai, then Madras, which India lost by a run. Thirty-six years later, as Chepauk gears up to play host to the 2023 ODI World Cup, Sportstar caught up with Prasanna Kannan, Tamil Nadu Premier League CEO, to get the lowdown on the prep work.

If you are planning to watch a game in Chennai during the World Cup, here’s all you need to know:

Capacity

The stadium capacity is 38,175. Approximately 970 seats are unavailable due to camera stands, pillars, and sight screens, leaving a total capacity of around 37,000. Of these, approximately 1,800–2,000 are reserved for ICC sponsors (complimentary) and guests for the World Cup, while BCCI reserves around 700–800. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association generally allocates around 7,500 complimentary tickets for clubs, government departments, cricketers, former office bearers, and current office bearers, with a quota system in place. There are around 25,000 public tickets available for sale, of which BCCI and ICC have reserved around 6,000 for internal sales. TNCA has to also cater to Madras Cricket Club (MCC) and Madras Race Club (MRC), which accounts for about 3000 tickets. There is also a TNCA option to buy for members in the F, G, and H upper stands, leaving around 13,000 tickets available for purchase by the general public. These are sold in two ways. One by ICC outside India for foreign fans, and through BookMyShow in India.

Practice facilities

At MAC B, matting was installed on identified pitches for lower division practice as the nets and structures were old and needed to be reinstalled. A high-transmission power line was opted for, and trenches were dug and wires laid for the installation of a transformer near the older indoor nets. Wiring was laid across the stadium, and hence the Pattabhiraman gate is currently shut. But it will open for the World Cup. However, the transformer won’t be operational until the end of December. A study is being conducted to determine whether having an entry gate via Pattabhiraman and an exit via A. G. Ram Singh will ease traffic flow.

Minor works are also being carried out inside the stadium, including the installation of showers in the umpire’s room and a change of some mats in the washrooms. The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) code mandates one washroom for approximately 110 people, but there are more on offer here. Although there is no exact number of washrooms available for each stand since the capacity of each stand varies, approximately one toilet for every 70 people is likely to be maintained.

Lighting

The floodlights have been replaced with LED lights in MAC A and MAC B stadiums due to the old metallurgy lamps going out of production and the high cost of replacement bulbs. The LED lights achieve better uniformity of light and reduce energy consumption by 40–50%.

During testing, an illuminance of around 4000 lux was achieved at the centre of the ground and 1800–1900 lux at the boundary, which is higher than the production perspective of 3000 and 1500 lux respectively. There is no specific standard for lights, but the ICC issued a standard in 2008–2009 from the players’ perspective, which is 1500 lux in the centre and 800 lux at the boundary. Even for 4K resolution during IPL, these lights should be enough to provide quality. LED lights give uniformity, and the current roof is made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) fabric, so it cannot handle any weight. Therefore, a setup like the one in Ahmedabad, which has a ring of lights mounted along the rim of the roof, is out of the question.

These light towers are powered by generators as they are not connected to the main grid. The transformers are not designed to handle the high loads of the LED lights or metallurgy, which can cause delays during match days. The LED towers require around 1000 kVA of load, while the metallurgy towers require a minimum of 2400–2500 kVA of load. The old metallurgy lights took approximately 20 minutes to fully light up, whereas the LEDs come back on immediately.

Ticketing

There are two online ticketing options available: BookMyShow for Indian audiences and ICC tours and travels for foreign countries. They are selling tickets with geoblocks for specific countries participating in events. For instance, for a match between India and Australia, some tickets are available only to Australian citizens or people outside India who want to attend the event.

Home delivery is an option for advance bookings at an extra cost, and redemption of online tickets is available at other centres. However, there were issues with the e-scanning of tickets during the IPL due to poor internet availability. So, in anticipation of the World Cup rush, Wi-Fi from the stadium’s office central network will be made available at entry gates.

No decision has been taken on whether redemption of tickets will be available or not, which is pending confirmation with BookMyShow. If it is available, it will be open one week before the tournament and will continue until match day at two centres in the stadium — one on Canal Road and the other on Wallajah Road. However, logistics are still being figured out. The redemption process is up to individual centres.

Parking and transport for fans

Parking facilities for the public will be the same as it was during IPL 2023 — for fans without car passes, space will be available at the Madras University campus, the PWD parking area (opposite the V Pattabiraman gate on Wallajah Road), the Omandurar Medical College campus, and the Kalaivanar Arangam parking area. It is necessary to coordinate with CMRL for transportation arrangements during matches. TNCA writes to both Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) and local transport authorities about extending bus and train timings based on match timings.

Drainage

Back in 2005, two games [India vs. South Africa, 3rd ODI; India vs. Sri Lanka, 1st Test] were curtailed due to a wet outfield, despite no rain during the game. The TNCA then relaid the outfield with soft drainage, utilising multi-layered soil and perforated PVC pipes to drain excess water. Since then, there have been no issues with inundated outfields. When it rains, covers are placed on the main strip, and bowler’s run-up. The three super soppers in the stadium are used to remove any excess water from the covers to prevent it from spilling onto the 30 yards, which would cause problems for the bowlers’ run-up. Afterward, a rope is run across the outfield to discharge any remaining water before the players warm up and the game resumes. There will be a 45-minute delay at the most — out of which 30 minutes is basically for groundsmen to work on the covers — which includes removing them, marking them, putting up the stumps, and everything else. Then another 10–15 minutes are required for the fielding team to warm up.

Pitch

The Chepauk square was not fully relaid, only receiving a top wash. Chepauk typically undergoes a top wash once every two seasons. The square was last fully relaid in 2014. The pitch at Chepauk consists of clay and red soil. In recent times, it has helped spinners, but has also been a true surface for batters. Out of the nine IPL matches played this year, only two saw scores over 200, while the others saw scores ranging between 140-180. The Chepauk pitch appeared to have lost its famed bounce for a while, but the curators have managed to get it back. The square has nine pitches, which have undergone annual maintenance since the IPL, and there is a sincere effort to have good grass covering. If the matches are played in October, the threat of rains is always around the corner as it is the active North-East Monsoon period. The dew factor depends on the rains. If there are rains before the matches, the chances of dew are slim. But if it is dry, dew could come into play. If that is the case, the ground staff will spray the anti-dew chemicals on the outfield to ensure toss doesn’t become a crucial factor and the bowling team doesn’t struggle under lights with a wet ball.

Areas that need attention: It is hoped that TNCA’s discussions with CMRL will bear fruition and fans will be allowed to use QR/barcoded entry tickets for the World Cup matches as tickets for Metro trains.

Like CSK’s tie-up with CMRL during the last IPL, feeder buses were available to transport fans from Government Estate Metro Station to the stadium. Similar arrangements could enhance the WC experience in Chennai.

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