Thursday, April 24, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, September 26, 2006
|A BanglaCricket Exclusive: The Mirpur Stadium|
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 HomeMirpur Stadium is being called â€œThe New Home of Bangladesh Cricketâ€. Fans are curious about whatâ€™s cooking at this facility. Many cricket fans did not like losing the BNS to â€œPhootbollâ€. Part of Bangladesh media and other high profile cricket personas did not like the switch. The question â€œMeerpoor keno jabo amra?â€ ("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. Letâ€™s get the facts, just the facts, right from the designers and the builders.
How It All Started
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.
â€œBashatâ€ and The Architect
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 OverviewBangladesh received a â€œDesign Briefâ€ 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.
The whole plan is comprised of 16 different packages. Itâ€™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 isnâ€™t there a concrete completion date? Masud Khan said, â€œItâ€™s mostly because of the funding issues. We are doing work once the funds are made available for the packages. Thatâ€™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.â€
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, â€œSometimes, itâ€™s a necessity in Bangladeshâ€ he quips. Masud thinks, once completed, this stadium will make any Bangladeshi proud.
The Groundâ€œ15 â€“ 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.â€ A bold claim, but letâ€™s look at the Engineering behind it.
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.
The PitchesThere 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. â€œThese pitches are made of 100% local materials, we did not import a single thing for themâ€, 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 â€œsub-continentalâ€ pitches.
â€œI can tell you, these will be far different than any other Bangladeshi pitchesâ€, said Belal.
â€œAre they still going to be low-bounce, and dusty?â€ I asked.
â€œWhat made you think that?â€ Belal asked back.
â€œThey will be hard and fastâ€, added the curator.
â€œAnd yes, they will be bouncyâ€, he said with an aura of confidence.
Media CenterThe 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.
Also, there is an added surprise for the commentary crew. There will be a CafÃ©, 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. â€œThis is a one-of-a-kind benefit they will enjoy hereâ€ said Masud, smiling.
Eat your heart out, Wasim.
General Audience Galleries â€“ â€œThe Uplifted Walkwayâ€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.
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, Playerâ€™s Lounge AreasWorks 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. Playerâ€™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.
The Playerâ€™s Viewing Area & VIP Gallery CoversYet another pleasant surprise awaits here. The typical box will go away. The whole playerâ€™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.
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 WordsThis is a massive project, and it should be. Itâ€™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, itâ€™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 â€œThe Home of Bangladesh Cricketâ€? 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. Youâ€™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.
AcknowledgementsMr. 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
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