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Our Middle Order (2007)
A BanglaCricket Exclusive: The Mirpur Stadium (2006)
A plea with the BCB (2005)
Of myths, destiny and loyalty (2005)
Bangladesh - India ODI series tidbits & some related thoughts (2005)

 
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Mirpur Stadium is being called “The New home of Bangladesh Cricket”. Fans are curious about what’s cooking at this facility. Many cricket fans did not like losing the BNS to “Phootboll”. The question “Meerpoor keno jabo amra?” ("Why do we have to move to Mirpur?") is heard daily in the Bangladeshi cricketing arena.

A BanglaCricket Exclusive: The Mirpur Stadium

Published: 26th September, 2006

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Mirpur Stadium: The New Home Of Bangladesh Cricket
W hat is at the Mirpur stadium? I have not seen many decent pictures of the ground. It is hard to find the stats on the facility. Even the International Stadium Databases provide very minimum information about this venue. These are the very reasons which pushed me to do this piece to bring out full details of this shrouded project.

The New Home

Mirpur Stadium is being called “The New Home of Bangladesh Cricket”. Fans are curious about what’s cooking at this facility. Many cricket fans did not like losing the BNS to “Phootboll”. Part of Bangladesh media and other high profile cricket personas did not like the switch. The question “Meerpoor keno jabo amra?” ("Why do we have to move to Mirpur?") is heard daily in the Bangladeshi cricketing arena.

There are also frustrations expressed in the media about the progress of the work. Recently Prothom Alo called the project a mirage. There are indications of frictions amongst the involved organizations. Progress of work is lagging behind, the Prothom Alo article points out.

I wanted to carefully sidestep all these conflict issues and present just the facts to the fans. So, I decided to contact the builders and the architects of the project. I decided not to talk to any other party, not the BCB, not the NSC (National Sports Council), not even to a sportswriter. Let’s get the facts, just the facts, right from the designers and the builders.

How It All Started


Mirpur Stadium: Full 3D rendering of night view.
“Shere-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium” is the official name of this ground. The present ongoing work is actually a “Renovation and Redevelopment” project. Constructions started in June of 2005. The consultant for the project is “Bashat Architects Engineers” of Banani, Dhaka. Presently two construction contractors are doing work on the project; National Development Engineering (NDE) Ltd and Rupatoli.

Very briefly, how it works: NSC releases funds to BCB (Yes, NSC has the control over the cash, not BCB). BCB has picked Bashat as the Consultant for the project. Bashat distributes and guides the work via the contractors. In this, there is a myriad of red tapes, fund problems, personal likes and dislikes, shortcuts, material limitations, skills limitations, affiliations and other things that directly or indirectly affect the project on a daily basis. As I said before, I will not go into it.

Bashat has handed over to BCB the list of works that is needed. BCB will, step by step, put parts of the project up for bid, as funds become available, until the whole plan in implemented.

The NSC maintains an office at the site, headed by Engineer Mr. Nurul Alam Pradhan. BCB also maintains an office there to look after the work. Bashat, NDE and Rupatoli also have offices and worker areas at the site.

Basic Stats


An architectural 3D rendition of the Mirpur Stadium project. (Courtesy Bashat)
The site of this venue is a total of 58 “Bighas”, which translates into about 8,35,200 square feet of area. The stadium was originally built for soccer and athletics, so, it is rectangular in shape. The designers had to commit to a substantial amount of demolition and reconstruction to make a typically round cricket ground to fit in this rectangular space. They have done it successfully and with grace.

Seating capacity with present structure of a 2 layer gallery
AreaSeating
General Audience Areas35000
Gold Members 5000
Platinum Members 500
Other VIPs, dignitaries, corporate sponsors etc. 6500
Total Capacity 47000


“Bashat” and The Architect


Masud R. Khan,
Chief Architect
Desh Upodesh, Design Associates & Tarek Hasan Consortium submitted their bids along with Bashat. Bashat’s proposal offered a unique solution for a problem inherent to the existing facility. They were awarded the job. Before this, the highly acclaimed “Zia Mazar & Museum Complex” was the center piece of Bashat portfolio.

Are all self-made men idealists? The chief architect, Mr. Masud R. Khan would absolutely not work on a project if he did not enjoy the challenge, regardless of the profit aspects of it. After graduating from BUET in 1988, he struggled hard to establish his company as a leading national enterprise. Early in his career, Masud put aside opportunities to move abroad and wanted to do something in Bangladesh. Today, he enjoys his work, life and his success immensely. Masud is well supported by a group of bright and enthusiastic Bangladeshi Engineers and architects.

The Overview

Bangladesh received a “Design Brief” from the Australians. Bashat used some general guidelines from that design brief to create their plans. Some of its details are described in following paragraphs.

Tanvir Mahmud, Senior Project Architect.


The whole plan is comprised of 16 different packages. It’s been planned this way so a multiple number of packages can be worked on simultaneously. Package 1, the deconstruction, renovation and development of the ground is complete. Package 2 & 3, the VIP/players area and the Media Center are being worked on. The VIP area construction is done, except for the interior works. The media center work is about halfway done.

Surprising, but true, there is no set completion date for this huge and ambitious project. There is only a general consensus, related to me by a young site Engineer named M.S. Ronju, that, these facilities should be 100% ready for the 2011 World Cup Cricket opening ceremonies.

Why isn’t there a concrete completion date? Masud Khan said, “It’s mostly because of the funding issues. We are doing work once the funds are made available for the packages. That’s how we completed the first package. Now we are doing work on the 2nd and 3rd packages. We can work several packages side by side, if the funds are made available.”

Masud also added that BCB did not have direct control of the finances. At the beginning, BCB hoped for that control. But, there was a system already in place for distributing the funds through National Sports Council (NSC), so BCB is getting the necessary funding through NSC. Masud does not think of this 2 layer system as negative, “Sometimes, it’s a necessity in Bangladesh” he quips. Masud thinks, once completed, this stadium will make any Bangladeshi proud.

The Ground

“15 – 20 minutes max! That is all the time we will need to drain the ground after heaviest of Bangladeshi rainfall. And 10 more minutes with the Super-Soaker, you will be able to roll on the grass without getting your shirt wet.” A bold claim, but let’s look at the Engineering behind it.

This look will be gone. The new look is on the way...
After the old athletics tracks were removed, they dug up two and a half feet of soil from the ground. This sticky, red soil was completely moved away. In came a spider web of UPVC (Unbreakable PVC) pipes. These pipes are 6 to 8 inches in diameter, precision perforated with small holes for drainage. The pipes are first buried in rock chips, next, the whole thing was covered with sand. The ground is precisely sloped so the center is a whopping 29 inches higher than the edges of the outfield. Rainwater moves quickly here.

The drainage and the flow can be monitored at numerous evenly distributed points. If, for any reason, an area of the ground does not drain quickly, the pipes can be quickly checked and be replaced as needed.

Drains surrounding the Mirpur Stadium ground.
Translation? Year round practice even after rain. After all, this ground will be used for the training of all national teams. Presently, the ground is going through some renovations.

The Pitches

There are eight pitches. They are the pride and joy of BCB curator Shafiul Alam Belal. Aussie curator Richard Winters had helped him build the pitches. (Mr. Winters was with the WACA grounds at that time, presently he looks after the MCC grounds). The orientation of the pitches is North-South. Shafiul did not use the typical red Mirpur clay for them, but he used soil from another part of Dhaka. “These pitches are made of 100% local materials, we did not import a single thing for them”, Belal said.

From personal knowledge and looking at the stadium orientation, we can expect the afternoon bowlers of the winter matches to get some assistance from the northern wind. The northern wind in Mirpur still travels over some open areas, with no significant structures to reduce its speed. The northern breeze here is gentle. In summer matches, there will often be gusty, blowing wind, however, will have its speed reduced by vast overgrown and overpopulated urban areas. Still, expect to see some effect of it on the bowlers.

Next came the obvious question: what will be the nature of these pitches? Belal was irked at my comparison between these and other proverbial “sub-continental” pitches.

“I can tell you, these will be far different than any other Bangladeshi pitches”, said Belal.
“Are they still going to be low-bounce, and dusty?” I asked.
“What made you think that?” Belal asked back.
(Awkward silence)
“They will be hard and fast”, added the curator.
“And yes, they will be bouncy”, he said with an aura of confidence.

Media Center

The press undoubtedly will have the most dominating viewing position in the facility. They will be able to hone in on all those caught behinds and LBWs with ease. This will be a state of the art kind of a press box with posh surroundings, the best equipments, satellite uplinks, broadband and all other modern amenities. The media center has its own dedicated entry and own elevator, own restrooms and lounge. Oh yes, the press guys will be treated with pomp.

Side by Side view of the Media Center under construction & its 3D rendering of its future look.

Side view & front view of Media Center 3D rendering.

Also, there is an added surprise for the commentary crew. There will be a Café, shaded with high-tech light material on the roof of the media center. There our armchair specialists can chat, discuss and debate with other cricket greats, while enjoying the world-class amenities this place has to offer. “This is a one-of-a-kind benefit they will enjoy here” said Masud, smiling.

Eat your heart out, Wasim.

General Audience Galleries – “The Uplifted Walkway”

The planners faced a problem here with the existing structures. This is inherent to stadium designs in Bangladesh. As we all know, in Bangladesh, stadiums are built with shops on the outer sides of the galleries.

This ramp solution was the highlight of Bashat’s proposal. Rendition (Courtesy Bashat)
Both ICC and our shop owners have a problem with the spectators passing through their store fronts during a match.

Bashat provided a unique solution here. Two ramps will be built, one at the north-west side and the other at the south-east end of the stadium. After reaching the parking lot, the public will take the ramps directly to the 2nd floor, avoiding the shops. At the 2nd floor landing, the crowd will be safely distributed to different parts of the galleries, away from other elements. The pre-existing entryways that poke out of the galleries, will be less necessary. At the Mirpur Stadium, every other one of those entryways will be closed off, ending with a more pleasant, uninterrupted look.

VIP, Player’s Lounge Areas

Works on these areas are going on presently. I have provided some pictures of some of these areas. As you enter through the VIP gate, umpires change room is to your left, and the gym is at the end of the corridor. To your right, after entry, there will be the dining hall for the two playing teams. Player’s lounge for the two teams is at the front, nearest to the ground. BCB offices, change rooms (players) and several other rooms for different purposes are also there. The construction for the most part is done. The interior decoration has not started yet. Have a first hand look.


From the dreams...


Reality is taking shape: The VIP Entrance.

The Player’s Viewing Area & VIP Gallery Covers

Yet another pleasant surprise awaits here. The typical box will go away. The whole player’s viewing area will be a glass bubble. Fully air-conditioned, this will have a frameless, seamless glass top and front. The players will feel they are part of the action, part of the ground.

Left: Work underway in players' viewing area. Right: 3D rendering of VIP Gallery covers.

Bashat is going for the high-tech looks for VIP Gallery Covers. This cover will be made of some type of poly-carbonate sheets, suspended by steel cables.

Final Words

This is a massive project, and it should be. It’s an ambitious one, also as it should be. Only 3 of the total of 16 packages are being worked on at present. In a country where we have so many limitations, one has to be patient to see an undertaking of this size to come to a grand conclusion. Yes, it’s clear that we have some waiting to do. So, Bangladesh cricket fans, are you excited? Do you think Sher-E-Bangla Mirpur National Stadium will become “The Home of Bangladesh Cricket”? I have tried to give you fans an insiders look, along with data that is not otherwise available. You saw some of the pictures and plans. You’ve also met the architects, curator and others. So, judge it for yourself. Like you, I am keen to find out how this project evolves in the next few years. If the opportunity presents itself, I will follow up with more information in the future. For now lets wait for something grand, something that we will be proud of.

Other Pictures


The VIP Gate, North side of stadium. Just Wait & Watch.



Outside view of VIP area.


The dining hall for the teams.



Main corridor of players' area.



The cardio bikes in the gym.



Physio is busy with the U23 team training.


Tall Order: the day’s tasks for the lads.


Acknowledgements

Mr. Nur Solaiman, Superintendent Engineer, PWD Bangladesh
Mr. Atiquzzaman, Managing Director, Cherry International, for logistical support
Mr. Mahmudul Hasan Shamim, Senior Sports Reporter, RTV, Bangladesh
Mr. Shafiul Alam Belal, curator, BCB
Mr. Masud R Khan, Managing Director, Bashat
Mr. Tanvir Mahmud, Senior Project Architect, Bashat
The NDE and Rupatali staff at site of the Mirpur Stadium

 

About the author(s): Besides authoring witty and informative articles on Bangladesh cricket, Masum Billah contributes and shares much more of his insights on our forums, where he goes by the nick "billah".

 

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