World’s biggest cricket stadium renamed after India’s Modi

In surprise move, new name announced by President Ramnath Kovind during a ceremony ahead of the third Test between India and England.

This photograph taken on February 23, 2021 shows fogging under way at the stadium in Motera on the outskirts of Ahmedabad ahead of the India-England match [Sam Panthaky/AFP]

The world’s biggest cricket stadium has been renamed after India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a surprise move, hours before its inaugural international match between India and England.

The 110,000-seater stadium in Motera outside of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, had been Modi’s pet project during his time as chief minister of that state before he took over as head of the national government in 2014.

The new name was announced by President Ramnath Kovind during a ceremony ahead of the third Test between India and England.

“This stadium was the dream of the prime minister and he had during his stint as chief minister here floated the idea of building the world’s largest stadium,” Home Minister Amit Shah said at the event.

The $100m, perfectly round venue, with seats in the blue and saffron of the Indian team, promises unobstructed views from every angle.

It eclipses the 100,000-seat Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia, which dates back to 1853.

The former Motera stadium had been inaugurated as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Cricket Stadium by Modi in February 2020 when he hosted a rally there with the then-US President Donald Trump.

Trump speaks during the ‘Namaste Trump’ event at the stadium outside Ahmedabad [File: Alex Brandon/AP]

Patel, an independence leader, is immortalised in Gujarat’s Statue of Unity, the world’s biggest statue, built in 2018 and measuring 182 metres (597 feet) – twice the size of the Statue of Liberty – which has struggled to attract visitors.

President Kovind said the stadium will be just one part of a huge Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave that will house amenities for 33 Olympic sports.

Although cricket enjoys massive popularity in the country of 1.3 billion, India already has more than a dozen stadiums capable of holding international matches.

Source: News Agencies