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Official Review by Gary Butterworth, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Pakistan is a cricket-first country, but it’s not quite a cricket-only country. Many die-hards still proudly proclaim field hockey as their national game, but in practice, cricket gets the attention.
When the Sri Lankan national cricket team was attacked in Lahore in 2009, international sport in Pakistan seemed to go onto life-support. But not entirely. While security concerns forced the Pakistani national cricket team to stage their “home” matches in the United Arab Emirates, lower-profile sports were able to soldier on on their home soil. The Chinese national hockey team was among the first foreign national sports delegations to tour Pakistan after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, and the squad took to the field at the National Hockey Stadium in Lahore, Punjab.
National Hockey Stadium, also known as Gadaffi Hockey Stadium, has a proud past. The venue hosted the 1990 men’s Field Hockey World Cup. These days, though, notable events here are few and far between.
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 was no food and beverage during our visit, so we're unable to provide a rating for this category.
The majority of the seating is on simple concrete steps; however, proper stadium seats do exist in approximately one quarter of the stadium.
The National Hockey Stadium sits in the same complex as Gaddafi Stadium, Punjab Stadium, Lahore City Cricket Association Ground, and a branch of the Al Hamra Art Center. All of the venues are dark most days. While the complex can be quiet on non-game days, the shops and restaurants built into the exterior of Gaddafi Stadium ensure that there is always some life. The area is also a long walk, or a short drive, from Lahore's famous Liberty Market.
95% of Lahoris will be able to direct you to National Hockey Stadium from anywhere in the city. If you're unlucky enough to ask part of the 5% who are not familiar with the venue, tell them that you want to go to Gaddafi (cricket) Stadium. 100% of Lahoris will be able to point you towards Gaddafi, which sits across the street from the National Hockey Stadium. The venue can also be reached from the Gaddafi Stadium stop on Lahore's new Metro Bus BRT system. Parking could be an issue for very large matches, but those have essentially been non-existent since 2009.
Poor families have been reported to take up residence in the stadium from time to time. Given the relative lack of events being staged here, we are happy to see the venue being put to some use, no matter how unfortunate.
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