This is the inaugural season of the Indian Super League. So, it’s understandable that we don’t really know about all the little intricacies of the teams even though we’ve seen multiple ISL stadiums by now and may even be on the verge of choosing one to support.
I, for one, feel this intense temptation to throw my hat in with the Chennaiyin fans even though I’m based in Delhi. Why, you ask? Well, simply because I like a team that plays good football and so far Chennaiyin has impressed me. Still, I can’t really make the decision without some more watching. I’m sure I’ll know which team I support by the end of December… erm… almost.
Let’s get back to the point. You’ve been watching these matches and may even be rooting for your teams but do you know about the stadiums that these teams play in? We’ve all heard of the Bernabeu of Real Madrid, the Nou Camp of Barcelona, Old Trafford of Manchester United, the Emirates of Arsenal, the Allianz Arena of Bayern Munich, and the recently infamous SportsDirect.com @ St. James’ Park of Newcastle United but do we know which ISL stadiums our teams play in?*
I’m here to correct this little oversight. Here we go.
Atletico de Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium
Located in Kolkata, this stadium was built in 1984 and is the largest football stadium in the country with a maximum capacity of 68,000.** Like most other things in this country, we’ve tried to maximise the use of this gem of a stadium because this ISL stadium is home to not only the ISL table topper but also four other teams, namely Mohun Bagan AC, East Bengal FC, and Mohammedan SC.
Chennaiyin FC’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
This is one of four ISL stadiums that share the name. We know how much we respect our first Prime Minister. Such is the cosmic national Indian respect that I almost wrote Chacha before all of that. The stadium first came into being in 1993 and has a total capacity of 40,000. BTW, if you see animals prowling during matches in this stadium, don’t be surprised because it was built over the old Madras Zoo.
Delhi Dynamos FC’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
The second ISL stadium titled JNS in this list, this stadium was built in 1982 for Asian Games but was renovated before the highly controversial Commonwealth Games of 2010. Does anyone know what happened to Suresh Kalmadi? He just disappeared from the news. The stadium’s capacity is 60,254. The South Asian Games were held in this ISL stadium and Bayern Munich also played the Indian Football Team in 2013 here.
FC Goa’s Fatorda Stadium
Fatorda Stadium reminds me of a wide variety of dishes largely because I can’t forget the word Asafoetida. It’s supposed to be some kind of a spice used in rare delicacies in India. Can you guess the official name of this stadium? Ah, you’re right! Its Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. FC Goa have been unable to add spice to their ISL stadium this season even though the lush green park offers one of the better playing surfaces in the league. The stadium is also home to Churchill Brothers, Dempo, Salgaocar, and Sporting Clube de Goa.
Kerala Blasters FC’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
The fourth and last JNS in this list belongs to Kerala Blasters. The ISL stadium is the largest of the lot as its capacity is 75,000. The stadium was inaugurated in 1996 and is home to Kerala Strikers, FC Kochin, and Kerala Football Team. This stadium was primarily built so that it could host football matches. However, it has subsequently been used for cricket matches as well.
Mumbai City FC’s DY Patil Stadium
This ISL stadium was established for the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008. For those of you who’re not Indians, that’s the special cricket league that everyone is crazy about in this country. The stadium can hold up to 55,000 people and is known for its state of the art facilities.
Northeast United’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium
This is one of the simpler ISL stadiums in the league right now but it won’t be surprising if it gets developed because of its involvement in the league. The stadium opened in 2007 and can hold about 35,000 souls. Before the ISL started, this stadium could only support 12,000 people but had to be renovated to meet FIFA’s restrictions.
FC Pune City’s Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex
Yes, the more you travel to the south, the longer the names get. My fingers are grateful that there isn’t an ISL stadium in Trivandrum and that the Keralites kept their stadium’s name simple. This ISL stadium was opened in 1995 and is even simpler than Northeast United’s home ground. It earlier boasted of a capacity of 12,000 which was increased to 22,000 recently.
*Fun fact time. Have you heard of Wankdorf Stadium? It was in Switzerland and the team that used to play there was called BSC Young Boys. Ahem, cough, cough. You never grow old with that kind of a profession eh?
**Just to put things in perspective, the Emirates stadium’s capacity is 60,272, Old Trafford’s is 75,635, and Wembley’s is 90,000.