CHENNAI: A 500-acre Rs 700-crore mega sports city is set to take shape on the city outskirts, with such swanky facilities like finest athletic tracks, indoor cycling velodrome, hockey stadium, multipurpose indoor stadium for basketball, volleyball and boxing.
The project is coming up near Thiruvidanthai, about 30km south of Chennai on East Coast Road (ECR). The identified land parcel, spread across both banks of Buckingham canal and nestled between ECR and OMR, is part of 3,000 acres of government land where, in 2003, the then AIADMK government had planned to build an administrative city.
The state-owned Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) has floated tenders inviting consultants for preparation of techno economic feasibility report for setting up the facility.
The consultant will study various revenue models, including Public Private Participation (PPP), to develop the sports city, and indicate the quantum of investment required from government and private sectors. The DPR will also look into aspects such as the holding capacity in the sports city.
Tamil Nadu sports minister Siva V Meyyanathan told TOI that the detailed project report for the project would be prepared soon. “We have studied Pune’s Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex and Patiala’s Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports. What we plan for Tamil Nadu will not just be on par with these facilities, but better than them,” said Meyyanathan.
The idea behind the centre is to catch sportspersons young and train them to be international sports stars. “There is no point of finding sporting sensations who are 18 years old. It i difficult to train them further. We need to spot talent, especially in rural areas, when they as young as 11 years, and then train them. We shall give them the right diet and ensure they win medals for the country,” Meyyanathan said. Sports fraternity in the state double-cheered the announcement. “We thank the chief minister for the announcement and hope the project is completed sooner,” said C Latha, secretary, Tamil Nadu Athletics Association. “While the announcement is great, how soon they implement is more important. If our athletes are able to use it before the next Olympics, it would be most helpful,” she said.
Tamil Nadu has already improved in player contingent by sending 12 athletes in the Tokyo Olympics, which is double the number compared to previous Olympics. “We seem to be content with participation. Such a mega infrastructure is the first step towards achieving international success,” Latha said.
Besides basketball, boxing, volleyball, judo and kabaddi, it will have tennis courts and hockey grounds. The Mega Sports City will also have a stadium for Persons with Disabilities and accommodation facilities. It will train and conduct competitions for 18 different games and sports.
The facility is the best and the biggest thing to happen in Tamil Nadu after 1995 when the state hosted South-Asian Federation (SAF) games. Back then, however, the sports facilities lay scattered in the city and sportspersons were accommodated at a centralised facility in the SAF Games village at Koyambedu. A Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) official said they had been sending proposals for modern sports centres in Chennai and Coimbatore for decades now. “There is a lot of talent and we have good stadiums. What we lacked was an integrated sports complex with international coaching facility. This deficiency is being addressed now,” he said. While the infrastructure is a big boost for athletes and sportspersons, coaching should also be given more focus.