Temple of Indian hockey

Temple of Indian hockey

MDC National Stadium

The-independence era Major Dhyan Chand (MDC) National Stadium is not just a sporting venue, it’s also a heritage structure—built as part of the British Empire’s efforts to construct a showcase capital in Delhi under Edwin Lutyens. When Robert Tor Russel, the architect behind Connaught Place, Teen Murti House, and the Eastern and Western Courts, finished building the stadium in 1933, it was called Irwin Amphitheatre. In 1951, it was renamed the National Stadium and played host to the inaugural Asian Games. The opening and closing ceremonies, and athletics and cycling events were held here. Thirty-one years later, during the 1982 Asian Games, the stadium underwent a major change, transforming itself from a multi-disciplinary venue to a dedicated hockey stadium. It has remained a premier hockey arena ever since, being named after legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand in 2002 to reflect that.

Also See The Stadium (PDF)

For the 2010 Commonwealth Games, refurbishing the stadium was a tricky business. The heritage structures that are part of the stadium complex and façade could not be touched, and its location, just off India Gate and in the middle of Lutyen’s Delhi , meant that the vista could not be interfered with either. One of the innovative solutions for that was the construction of hinged floodlights—lights that can be elevated to a height of 30m during the Games and lowered to 12m, the same height as the stadium’s boundary wall—so the vista remains intact. Though the façade of the stadium remains the same, the inside is completely modern—with three new astroturf pitches (two for competitions and one for warm-up) and a brand new seating arrangement for 20,000 spectators.

The usual concerns about the Commonwealth Games venues not being ready on time and remaining untested doesn’t apply to this stadium. It successfully hosted the Hockey World Cup, the sport’s most important event, which was held from 28 February to 13 March.

Text by Rudraneil Sengupta / Graphic by Uttam Sharma/Mint