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Official Review by Ashvin Lad, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
MCA Stadium is home to the Rising Pune Supergiants of the India Premier League and is also home to the Maharashtra Cricket Association. The stadium was built in 2012 in response to India having the world’s largest cricket audience and the country’s growing influence in international cricket. While many Twenty20 matches have been played in the stadium, the match played on the date of this review marked the first international test match to be played in the venue.
MCA Stadium has a capacity of 37,400 set up specifically for cricket matches and is a mostly open stadium with limited shaded areas, allowing for views of low range mountain background.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food and beverage options in the East Section are very limited. There are no concession stands in sight and only a few vendors in the stands. You also only have access to the section your ticket is located in.
With the variety of the food options, vendors sell sandwiches and samosas. The perceived quality doesn't seem that high. The food is in wrappers in an open tub strapped around the vendor. The temperature this day was over 100 degrees, so there was no telling how this affected the food quality. The sandwiches are branded as Burger King.
There is no beer sold in the East Section, only soft drinks. Pepsi s the brand sold by the cup that is poured from 1 liter bottles off to the side. These sodas do not seem to be served chilled. They were giving away small cups of cold purified, packaged water. I don't know if this is the norm or due to the extreme heat that day.
For being a fairly new stadium, the aesthesis inside and out is quite lacking. The exterior is simply a block of concrete and not very welcoming. The area seems to still be in development, which explains the direct parking lot and long walk to the stadium itself. Inside the stadium is no different. It is very basic seating in an oval design that hugs the playing pitch. There are giant fences that block off each section on the concourse, preventing fans from experiencing the entire facility. The seats are of decent size and comfort and the rise of each row gives the fans great sightlines of the pitch. The pitch is a standard grass cricket pitch, with a couple of small video boards for replays and stats, but nothing much that stands out, not even music.
There are no in-game promotions and also no promotions or entertainment during the lunch and tea breaks. The closest form of entertainment is when the overhead TV camera swings around to various sections. At this point, fans get overly excited in an attempt to get on television.
The only benefit to sitting in the East Stand is a view of the mountains in the background. My recommendation would be to sit in the South Stand. For one, this is the only section with an overhang, so you are in the shade in the high heat of India. In addition, you are right behind the wickets, allowing for a great view of the bowler, the ball, and the batsman. It is difficult to see the ball being bowled from the side of the pitch.
MCA Stadium is outside of Pune, and pretty much the only development in the area. It appears that they are utilizing this as an anchor as there are many condo buildings going up within a mile or two of the venue. However, the facility isn't really a part of a neighborhood and stands on its own, and a car is definitely needed to get to MCA.
There are a few roadside stands that are within a mile or two as you approach the stadium from Pune. Other than that, there are currently no eating establishments in the area. The only dining establishments I would recommend would be in Pune, which is about a twenty-minute drive.
Hotel Mawal and Sentosa Resort are within a couple of miles, but due to the location, they are not walking distance. In addition, these do not appear to be any places that I would recommend.
Hyatt Regency Pune, JW Marriott Hotel Pune, and Hotel Novotel Pune are in Pune and would provide nicer options.
Indian cricket fans are a passionate bunch and as I left town on Saturday, which was Day 3 of the test match, traffic was backed up for miles approaching the stadium which would lead one to believe that it was sold out.
Fans seemed to be engaged in the match but the only time they became loud was each time India got an Australian batsman out. The only other times the fans showed group excitement was when the TV camera was on them in certain sections.
The stadium itself is right off an expressway providing easy access to the stadium. However, the same can't be said once you're inside. There is no mode of public transportation to the stadium. You will need a car to get there. On the positive side, there is plenty of parking at the stadium grounds.
The main gate is a five-minute walk from the parking lot. There you can pick up your Will Call tickets and purchase tickets on the day of as well. It looks like there is only one line to purchase tickets, but there are two. The line that looks like the only one utilizes a metal gate to keep people in a single file line. However, if you go the left of the "corral" you can walk right up to another window. Note that Indians really don't have appreciation for personal space. They will crowd you at the window and sometimes just cut in front of you even if you are at the window. Hold your ground. You're not being rude. They are not being rude. It's just the way it works over there.
Once you have your ticket, you will go through a security check and bags will be checked. You will also go through a metal detector. Women have their own line and will enter on the south side. For those with East Stand tickets, it is about a ten-minute walk from the main gate to the section gate. At the section gate you will scan your ticket and go through a one way revolving gate.
While there are wide open concourses, each section is fenced off from the other sections, so you are only able to access your ticketed area thus preventing a fan from experiencing the entire stadium. The stadium does not appear to be handicap accessible, but I could be wrong. I didn't see anything, but being a newer stadium, there may have been avenues that you have to request.
This is where the rupee to dollar exchange rate is of great benefit to Americans. Tickets for this test match were 400, 800, and 1200 rupees. With an exchange rate of 65 rupees to $1, this equates to $6, $12, and $18. The $18 dollar tickets get you in the South section which gives you plenty of shade and a great view of the bowlers and wickets.
Nothing to highlight other than free parking and free purified water due to the extreme heat. No real "extras" that were noticed.
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