Ahmedabad: The Indian President on Wednesday inaugurated the world's largest cricket arena, renamed from Sardar Patel stadium to Narendra Modi stadium.
The stadium, with a construction cost of 800 crores and an accommodation capacity of 1.32 lakh spectators, opened with the third Test between India and England. It will also host the fourth and final game of the series from March 4.
"This stadium was conceptualised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. He was President of the Gujarat Cricket Association at that time," Kovind said in his address. The renaming of the stadium was kept under wraps until after it was formally inaugurated.
"It represents India's aspirations and strength. India is called the hub of cricket, so it is appropriate that we have the largest stadium. It will give India a new identity," Kovind said.
Home Minister Amit Shah and Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju were also present on occasion.
"We have decided to name it after the country's Prime Minister. It was Modi ji's dream project," said Shah after the inauguration.
The President also performed the ground-breaking ceremony for a sports complex in the stadium, named Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel sports enclave, for football, hockey, basketball, kabaddi, boxing, and lawn tennis, among others. The ambitious 215-acre project has 20 stadiums in tow. Another sports complex is also coming up in Naranpura for multi-disciplinary sporting events in future.
"These three complexes will be on 233 acre of land, which is sufficient to host Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and even Olympics. Ahmedabad can be ready in six months," asserted Shah.
Australian architect firm Populous, which designed the Melbourne Cricket Stadium, is the architect of the new stadium.
The ground claims to have a drainage system that will take just 30 minutes from the time it stops raining to drain out the water. Additionally, it also has 11 pitches of both black and red soil, LED light along the perimeter to avoid shadows, and four dressing rooms so players could play back-to-back games on the same day. It also has a cricket academy, indoor practice pitches, and two separate practice grounds with a small pavilion area.
Dalit leader and MLA Jignesh Mevani, however, slamming the renaming act. He took to Facebook, promising the public to rename Motera stadium as Patel stadium while simultaneously taking a jibe at Modi, adding he would rename Kankaria zoo as Narendra zoo.