Making a pitch for Keenan revival

If Ranchi has become an elite cricket address, thanks to JSCA's international stadium, can Jamshedpur be far behind?

Keenan Stadium in Bistupur, which has seen many a historic match in its jinxed past, is slowly and steadily picking up renovation pace, courtesy Jusco.

While new roofs over the Old Pavilion and Naoroji Pavilion are already in place, dressing rooms of the former are being refurbished. Cracks on walls of two dressing rooms have been cemented and the facilities are gleaming with white plastic paint.

Steel pillars supporting the tin roofs at both pavilions have also received a fresh coat of paint, whereas seating arrangements at the Old Pavilion will shortly undergo repair and paint jobs. An iron grille has been installed on the rear side of Naoroji Pavilion, which was spelling peril for Straight Mile Road because iron angles had jutted out of reinforced cement-concrete. A new boundary wall beside the Media Centre has also been erected replacing the old one that was in bad shape.

Jusco officials admitted that the condition of Naoroji Pavilion was pathetic, with crumbling ceiling and tottering pillars. The galleries too had been deemed unsafe for spectators. "But now, the pillars have been strengthened. Repairing and painting of President's Box and CriControl ' the two wings of Naoroji ' are also on the anvil," a Jusco supervisor present at the site said, adding that dressing rooms too would get a makeover.

Roughly, Rs 1.5 crore will be spent on Keenan's facelift of which Tata Steel is learnt to have already released Rs 80 lakh.

Cricket enthusiasts, mostly from Ghatshila and Patamda in East Singhbhum and Purulia and Bankura districts of Bengal, make it a point to drop by at Keenan when they visit the city. Ashutosh Chatterjee is one of them. "Keenan is a wonderful stadium and it would have been a shame to let it languish further in neglect. I, for one, wish to watch an ODI at Keenan just like old times," the Purulia resident, visiting relatives in the steel city, said.

In April last year, Jusco had conducted a survey of the stadium and there were plans to dismantle the pavilions, but the same was shelved later. "The pavilions are old and weak. However, we dropped the idea to dismantle the structures because they can still be renovated," a functionary said.

Captain Amitabh, head of Tata Steel's sports department, said the revamped pavilions would be ready by March-end. "Our main target is to renovate the twin pavilions at the earliest. Repair work of galleries will follow suit," he added.

The senior official, however, declined to comment on when the repair work would finish.

Built in 1939 and named after John Lawrence Keenan, one of the general managers of Tata Steel, the stadium has been a prime cricket venue in eastern India after Calcutta's fabled Eden Gardens. The last ODI was held more than seven years ago, on April 12, 2006, between India and England, as a part of the TVS Cup series. Earlier, the stadium was also a regular venue for Ranji matches and other domestic fixtures of the BCCI.

Will Keenan's revamp win the stadium big-ticket cricketing ties? Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com