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Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium: Rourkela joins list of world’s biggest hockey stadiums | Hockey News

Images of serpentine queues leading up to the gates of the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela is not what the sport is used to. It took mind back to the Lahore World Cup final in 1990, when the National Stadium there took in 60,000 with around 10,000 waiting outside to watch Pakistan take on the Netherlands. The loudspeakers at the stadium blared, asking those outside without tickets to go back home and watch the match on TV.
The Lahore stadium’s capacity is 45,000. But every available space — sitting, kneeling, standing — was taken. The 21st century hockey hasn’t seen anything even close to that many fans at a game of hockey.

The obvious reason is that Lahore’s National Stadium is still the largest hockey facility in the world when it comes to capacity. But what Odisha has done to bring hockey to fans over the last 10 years is also unmatched, even if there are often debates in local political circles in the state around the amount of money being spent on the promotion of hockey alone.

The state’s latest gift to the sport is the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, nestling in one of India’s traditional hockey nursery — the Sundergarh district.

A 20,000-seater stadium overtakes Odisha’s own Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, which can seat 15,000 spectators. Both the venues, however, will join hands to host the 15th edition of the Men’s Hockey World Cup from January 13 to 29.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the sprawling Rourkela facility, which includes the one of its kind World Cup Village.
The Village has 225 rooms and will house the teams staying in Rourkela for their matches during the World Cup. A total of 20 matches, out of the total 44, will be played in Rourkela.
Taking another step in its support for hockey, the Odisha government on Thursday announced an award of Rs 1 crore for each player if the Indian team goes on to win the World Cup.

India’s only World Cup triumph to date came 47 years ago in the 1975 edition, when the Indian men’s team defeated traditional rivals Pakistan 2-1 in the final in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
World’s biggest hockey stadiums (by capacity):
1. National Hockey Stadium, Lahore, Pakistan (capacity 45,000)
2. Chandigarh Hockey Stadium, Chandigarh, India (30,000)
3. Weingart Stadium (multipurpose), Los Angeles, USA (22,355)
4. Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium, Rourkela, India (20,000)

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