The Indian Super League is around the corner and their PR and marketing team have managed to create a great buzz in the weeks leading up to the star-studded event. The likes of Zico, Pires, Anelka, Del Piero et al have only added to the appeal of the tournament.But as always with the case of Indian football, the infrastructure is lacking and not upto international standards. All eight franchisees have decided upon their home stadiums, which are undergoing extensive last-minute repairs and refurbishment to get ready for this football extravangaza. We look at all eight venues for the inaugural season of the Indian Super League.Note: The venues for the semi-finals and final of the Indian Super League are yet to be decided since they’ll be neutral venues and would depend upon which teams enter the semi-finals at the end of the league stage.
#1 Salt Lake Stadium (Kolkata) Atletico de Kolkata
India’s largest sports stadium is set to host Sourav Ganguly’s Atletico de Kolkata team. The stadium, for long known as the home of Indian football, will also host the opening match of the tournament between Kolkata and Mumbai City FC. As per various news sources, the Salt Lake Stadium underwent major renovation, mainly in the corporate box and dressing rooms, after it was confirmed as the home of the Kolkata franchise earlier this year.
The stadium has an official seating capacity of 120,000, making it one of the biggest football venues in the world and Ganguly and his team will be hoping for the football-frenzied Kolkata populace to come out in big numbers to support their local team.
#2 DY Patil Stadium (Navi Mumbai) - Mumbai City FC
Ranbir Kapoor-owned Mumbai City FC will have the luxury of strutting their stuff at the most modern and state-of-the-art facility on the ISL stadium roster. The DY Patil Stadium, predominantly a cricket venue, has a capacity of seating close to 55,000 spectators. The stadium was inaugurated in 2008 and also played host to the 2008 IPL final.
The Mumbai City FC management would be hoping for fervent crowd support in India’s commercial capital, a city inextricably intertwined with India’s sporting culture and glory. A team boasting of international stars of the stature of Nicolas Anelka, Freddie Ljungberg and Indian stalwarts like Syed Rahim Nabi will have the full backing of a passionate and youthful Mumbai crowd.
#3 Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (New Delhi) Delhi Dynamos FC
A major venue of the hugely successful 2010 Commonwealth Games, JLN Stadium, since its renovation for the 2010 CWG, has hosted numerous international football events including the 2012 Nehru Cup and 2011 SAFF Championship, both of which India won. The stadium also played host to the historic friendly match between Bayern Munich and the Indian national team, a match in which Baichung Bhutia wore the Indian colors for the last time.
Football crazy Delhiites, long yearning for a local football side to cheer for, have finally got their footballing due and the fantastic facilities at the JLN Stadium will definitely attract huge crowds in support for Del Piero’s Delhi Dynamos. The stadium can seat a maximum of 60,000 spectators.
#4 Fatorda Stadium (Margao) FC Goa
Goa breathes and lives football. One of the epicentres of Indian football wasn’t to miss out on its share of the Indian Super League and the long-standing supporters of Indian football, Shrinivas Dempo and Dattaraj Salgaocar were quick to snap up their local franchise. The presence of Varun Dhawan and Virat Kohli in the management has already escalated the popularity factor of this franchise.
FC Goa will be playing its home games at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, also host to Dempo, Salgaocar and Churchill Brothers in the I-League. It can seat close to 25,000 spectators. Goans have always supported their local football clubs and the Zico-led side should expect nothing different in the upcoming tournament.
#5 Chhatrapati Shivaji Sports Complex (Pune) FC Pune City
Built for 1994 National Games, the CSS Complex is a sports facility which also served as the main venue for the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games held in Pune. It is also the home of the local I-League side Pune FC. The stadium can accommodate close to 22,000 spectators.
The presence of World Cup winner David Trezeguet will not only inspire the Salman Khan-owned team but will also be a major crowd puller in a city bustling with football-loving students and professionals.
#6 Indira Gandhi Stadium (Guwahati) NorthEast United FC
NorthEast United FC will represent all the 8 states at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in the Assamese city of Guwahati. The club, jointly owned by John Abraham and Shillong Lajong FC, will be counting on the local community to come out and support their team in good numbers like the I-League clubs in Shillong i.e. Rangdajied United, Royal Wahingdoh and Shillong Lajong received.
The Indira Gandhi Stadium can seat upto 35,000 spectators and also consists of a running track encircling the playing field. The state government had released a substantial amount of funds for the refurbishment of this stadium and to make it fit for hosting an event of the ISL’s stature.
#7 Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Kochi) Kerala Blasters FC
This multi-purpose stadium is the heart of Kerala’s sports culture. Be it the Kerala state cricket team or Chirag United, the Nehru stadium dons different roles for different sports. It is one of the largest cricket stadiums in India with a capacity of 55,000 and has served as an international cricket venue, hosting the national cricket team on several occasions.
Sachin Tendulkar is no stranger to this venue and he’d be expecting his huge legion of supporters and local football enthusiasts to come out and support his team in huge numbers.
#8 Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Chennai) Chennaiyin FC
A late replacement for the withdrawn Bengaluru franchise, Chennaiyin FC and their management, headed by Abhishek Bachchan, have done well to get everything in place ahead of the tournament. But the condition of their proposed home stadium have curtailed their preparations for the event. Upon a recent inspection, the pitch was deemed to be too hard to play on, and with little time remaining for the season opener, a stop-gap solution to mellow the surface is being used.
Junior Bachchan and his star-studded squad have been forced to train away in Bangalore and the likes of Materazzi, Silvestre and Elano would be hoping for a quick and positive resolution of the problem heading into the tournament.