The first thing most people will tell you about Mumbai is that space comes at a premium. The city doesn’t have the equivalent of New Delhi’s sprawling gardens and historic ruins. We exercise, socialize, romance and plan our festivals and marathons along concrete sea-hugging strips such as the Marine Drive, Worli Sea Face and Carter Road.
So when you hear of the 14-acre “recreation centre” that’s just opened for membership in the centrally located Bandra-Kurla complex, you’re automatically on high alert. Fourteen acres of space? In Bandra? What’s the catch?
The centre is located at Bandra-Kurla complex
Well, it costs Rs12 lakh (plus 12.36% tax) to become a member, but clubs with less space and fewer facilities have been known to charge more in Mumbai. The club, owned by the Sharad Pawar-run Mumbai Cricket Association (that explains the land) and Pune-based Vijay Shirke’s BG Shirke Construction Technology Pvt Ltd, is looking for “classy” members. Translation: Being a diamond merchant at the neighbouring diamond bourse isn’t the only membership criteria. Lounge readers can, of course, sally forth without any worries.
The good stuff
The sports facilities at the MCA Indoor Cricket Academy and Recreation Centre are outstanding, probably among the best available in India today. I want to start playing badminton all over again when I see the stunning courts, the likes of which I’ve only seen in international tournaments on television. There are two billiard tables, squash courts, a 3,000 sq. ft gym complete with 12 treadmills, EcoFlex flooring and Technogym equipment. There’s a half Olympic size pool (and another smaller pool, though buildings overlook both pools and you can forget about privacy); and a card room with a great view of the cricket stadium where a Bombay University practice match is on currently. The Mumbai vs Hyderabad Ranji Trophy match was held here last November. The full-length toughened glass windows at the bar, which shares the same view of the stadium as the card room, were imported from Istanbul and have already been tested by Mohammad Kaif, whose ball apparently hit the glass with zero impact.
The 38x28m indoor cricket academy is the star of this place. Club officials claim it’s the biggest indoor academy in the world. Even if it’s not, it’s certainly super slick with its cameras and video control room that make Internet coaching possible. There are 808 tubelights, bowling machines, and seven pitches, four for pace bowling and three for spin.
Indoor cricket academy
The club has several restaurants (don’t miss the terracotta flooring and wooden pillars from Chennai in the Mediterranean restaurant) and the usual other assorted facilities. The façade of the main building is good old-style Hessarghatta stone from Karnataka (the same kind that was used to build the Vikasa Soudha in Bangalore). Many of the public spaces have lovely hardwood floors and the sprawling lawns are nicely landscaped.
Coming up: tennis courts, a running track and two stands with a capacity of a 1,000 people.
Most of the furnishings have been sourced from UK’s Andy Thornton in an attempt to recreate an old-world, British-club feel. The overall effect is colonial with a desi edge, and I’m not sure it works for me. The medium-sized banquet room, for instance, has 20 chandeliers, two inverted stained glass domes on the ceiling, red velvet banquet chairs and printed wallpaper. I wish they had just stuck to modern, easy-to-maintain furniture instead of attempting to replicate the past. The academy also offers rooms to stay but these are spartan compared to everything else that’s on offer. But then this is about cricket, after all.
If you have Rs12 lakh to spare, log on to www.mcarecreationcentre.com