West Bengal govt donates land for astro turf hockey stadium

Kolkata : West Bengal’s Sports Minister Kanti Ganguly on Friday handed over paper documents of four acres of land to Bengal Hockey Association (BHA) with a promise of additional Rs 2 crore fund for setting of an astro turf field in the city.

The 8000-seat capacity stadium will be built near Yubabhrati Krirangan (YBK) with an estimated cost of Rs 8 crore with financial support from the Centre, said BHA spokesman Gopinath Ghosh.

The 102 years old BHA has neither has its own ground, nor a tent, unlike many football and cricket clubs have in the Maidan area, the main hub of Bengal’s sporting activity.

BHA has been trying to have an astro turf stadium since such an artificial field was first introduced in 1976 Olympics for hockey.

Bengal has produced 17 Olympians, who helped India win 27 Olympics medals, but an astro truf for hokcey remained illusive.

BHA organises annual Beighton Cup, one of the blue ribands hockey championships in the country, but it has no astro turf, for which the event is getting less popular among the clubs in the country.

In the last edition, Sports Authorities of India (SAI) lent its astro turf to hold tournament after much of cajoling and persuasion from every level.

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee recently assured the BHA that funds would not be a constraint once the Centre receives project report for astro turf stadium in the city.

Ganguly, who was the key man of having a land in prime area in-between YBK and Hyatt Hotel in Salt Lake, however, warned the BHA not to delay the construction work of the stadium.

” If BHA wishes, we want to be partner in creating the astro turf stadium,” Ganguly said.

BHA secretary Gurbux Singh said Sahara Paribar India, one of the title sponsor for BHA, would support to prepare technical feasibility report for construction of the stadium.

Singh said the stadium will also house an academy and gymnasium for districts’ budding players.

Hockey legend Lesley Claudius, who helped india win gold medals between 1952 to 1960, said much wait for such an astro turf field han been fulfilled with handover the land. ” We need some hard work in the coming years so that our old glory restores.”

BHA had been persuing for a land in Maidan area but the Army was main stumble block.

The Fort Williams, the headquarters of Eastern region, controls the green main area.

BHA president Jaya Brata Roy, who is the deputy general manager of Sahara Paribar India, had reportedly approched not less half-a-dozen generals and the defence ministry to have land for hockey field near Rangers or Dalhousie ground.

BHA was alloted Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in south Kolkata when late Subash Chakraborty was state sports minister, but opposition from many footballers and some media houses had shelved the project.