KARACHI: The National Stadium, a historic arena in world cricket, will witness another momentous occasion come March 25.
Situated in the heart of Karachi, the venue a few months ago was in tatters with shredded roofs on stands, broken chairs and discoloured structures. However, the scene is now completely different as the stadium undergoes a massive facelift on war-footing for staging the all-important final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
On a very recent visit to the stadium, one found the place in a significant-scale construction and repair mode with just over two weeks left for the PSL decider.
The field giving a fresh green look is being watered regularly as the 34,000-capacity National Stadium gets ready to host its first high-profile match featuring foreign cricketers and top-tier Pakistan players after around nine years. Established back in 1955, the NSK last time staged an international match in 2009 when Pakistan played Sri Lanka in a Test match.
Chairs are being erected in some of the hard-cemented spectators’ areas which will certainly add to the comfort of the fans — from across 20million-plus Karachi — who will turn out in huge numbers to watch the blockbuster under lights.
Though an extensive overhaul — at a reported cost of around Rs1.5 billion — is underway at the stadium, the roofs of the stands will only be laid after the PSL final.
“The extensive repair and revamp work being carried out here at the National Stadium, normally, requires a period of around one-and-a-half years; the problem is that the same amount of work has to be done in four months. And as we have to get the venue ready for the PSL final, it is not possible to place the roof on stands for the March 25 decider,” a staff member of NSK told Dawn.
“As the final is to be held under lights, the roof-less stands will not cause any major discomfort for the spectators,” he added.
“We, by all means, will get the venue ready for successfully staging the PSL final. National Logistic Cell (NLC), which is conducting the revamp work, will most probably hand over the stadium to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) by around March 15.”
While the team dressing rooms and its surrounding areas are also being refurbished, the hospitality boxes — adjacent to the main building — are getting equipped with two electric lifts backed by standby generators. “One lift is almost ready for use while work on the other is in progress,” the staff member said. “The PCB wants to provide maximum comfort to the fans. These lifts will be very helpful for the elderly to come and enjoy the match at the stadium.”