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Official Review by Hemant Dua, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, which came into existence in 1933, is home to the Indian National Field Hockey Team. Once known simply as National Stadium, it hosted the first Asian Games in 1951.
It was re-named in 2002 after one of the greatest players to have graced the game, Dhyan Chand. He acquired legendary status with his exploits on the international arena, and was a three-time gold medal winner with India at the Olympics between 1928 and 1936.
Often referred to as the "Temple of Indian Hockey", MDC National Stadium is situated in New Delhi. It has, over the years, hosted a number of major international events, such as the 2010 Men's Hockey World Cup. It was also one of the venues for the Commonwealth Games 2010.
It has a capacity of about 20,000, and is spread over 37 acres. The stadium is presently also home to Hockey India League side Delhi Waveriders, who took part in the inaugural HIL in 2013.
Leandro Negre, the President of FIH, was full of praise for MDC National Stadium, and called it the best Hockey stadium in the world. Indeed, it is one of the capital's rare state-of-the-art sports venues, complete with artificial turf.
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".
There isn't a lot of variety in food and drinks, unless of course, you are a VIP ticket holder.
The stadium is divided into the functional area, operational area and the field of play. Food is available in the functional area, but one is not allowed to take it into the operational area.
Bottled water would cost you Rs. 20-25. Usually, the only beverages available are canned soft drinks for Rs. 40-50. Food packages are priced at Rs. 60-70, containing an assortment of snacks such as patties, burgers, donuts, muffins and aloo bhujia, thus proving to be very economical.
When a tournament throws up a big match-up like the India-Pakistan one in the Commonwealth Games 2010, then the atmosphere is absolutely electric. Chants can be heard throughout the stadium. The arena starts to reverberate.
In matches of less relative importance, like the India-South Africa final test match that I attended recently, the turnout is not very impressive. Yet, there are sections of the crowd where the spectators are always up for it, and go completely berserk with happiness when the men in blue recover the ball from the opposition.
The backing that the team has every time they step out and take the field is amazing. There is an intimidating aura about the place throughout, and it's never an easy ride for the away side.
MDC National Stadium is within striking distance of India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhawan, at the heart of the city. This is arguably the best area in the capital, with lots to see. It's a tourist hotspot, really.
Crucially, the commercial hub of Delhi, Connaught Place, is close at hand. Here, you will find all the major food chain outlets such as McDonald's, Subway, Pizza Hut and Costa Coffee, amongst others. Pind Balluchi, Parikrama, and Blues Café and Bar are some of the more expensive and extravagant dining places.
The crowd is always with the team. Even when the home side finds itself as much as three goals down, as they did in the 5th game against South Africa recently, the fans and supporters are behind the team.
When a goal is scored, the ecstatic elation in the stands is there for all to see.
Getting one over traditional rivals Pakistan means everything to the supporters. The stadium is packed when these games come around, and if you haven't been to one of these, you have really missed something. It's an enthralling experience.
The locality is well connected with the rest of the city via the Delhi Metro rail service. Central Secretariat, Khan Market, Pragati Maidan and Mandi House metro stations are in close proximity. From any of these stations, getting to the desired location would usually require you to take an autorickshaw, which acts as a feeder service of sorts for the metro.
During the FIH World Cup 2010 and CWG 2010, the shuttle service was available at these metro stations itself, ferrying people back and forth.
For those commuting by car, parking is available at Bhairon Marg. There is also a Zoo Parking area. These parking spots are hardly 500 metres away from the venue gates.
Tickets for general admission are of various denominations. They start from Rs. 100 and go up to Rs. 750. VIP stand tickets cost Rs. 1000-1500, and the VVIP ones are priced at Rs. 4000-5000.
The general category tickets are rather affordable, and with that in mind, the return on investment is good. The field of view is great, and the seats are decent.
The stadium was renovated ahead of the Commonwealth Games, and is now definitely a world-class sports arena.
Those who are of the belief that Indian stadiums have poor training facilities and field of play should definitely visit the MDC once. They will be left astonished and dumbstruck, I assure you.
The hockey pitches are equipped with floodlights and electronic and video-matrix scoreboard. A new polygrass turf was laid on all pitches equipped with new sprinkler systems, as a part of the recent renovation.
The operational area is air-conditioned. For entry and exit, it has 4 ramps for open gallery, 2 ramps for VIP gallery, staircases and lifts.
I must not forget to add that nothing is perfect, and the same applies to the MDC. I do have a few complaints.
Firstly, the sound system could be much better. Secondly, there are no souvenir or fan shops within the complex itself. And lastly, there are no stadium tours available to the general public.
However, taking everything into consideration, I think this is one stadium that should be on the must-visit list of every sports aficionado.
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2105, D B Gupta Road
Karol Bagh, New Delhi 110005
22 kasturba gandhi marg
New Delhi, Delhi 110001
N-12 Connaught Place
New Delhi, Delhi 110001
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