Bangalore Football Stadium lies in a state of despair

Nestled in the heart of the city, the stadium has been the hub of local football activities for over 50 years.
Last Updated : 11 July 2024, 15:47 IST

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Bengaluru: At a time when world-class football stadiums have become the norm worldwide, with gleaming super structures and slick turfs popping out through television screens, the Bangalore Football Stadium (BFS) presents a sorry sight after years of neglect. 

Nestled in the heart of the city, the BFS has been the hub of local football activities for over 50 years.

From Super Division matches in the day to Frisbees being flung around at night, there is constant activity taking place on the stadium's artificial turf.

The foundation stone for the BFS was laid in 1967, and to this date, construction work remains incomplete, serving as a reminder of the inefficiency of those who run it. 

A stroll around the periphery of the crumbling structure paints a telling picture of the true neglect. It is not a pleasant sight from any vantage point.

On the pothole-riddled Commissariat Road, facing the main entrance, one can see that paint on the exterior walls of the main Western stand has been chipped away, leaving hordes of bricks exposed.

To enter Gate 4, the main entrance, one must weave through haphazardly parked two-wheelers, piled-up garbage and loose wires. Once inside, you have access to the Western stand. The stench from the washrooms is overwhelming. 

Climb a few flights of stairs and you will see that a few plastic chairs have cracks in them, the majority of the seating area has been blackened with mildew, there are exposed pipes overhead and the floor is littered with pigeon drops and gutka stains.

Broken beer bottles are strewn around and weeds have begun sprouting in between the cracks on the stairs.

Behind the dug-outs at the lower level, where the dressing rooms are situated, dirty water has seeped onto the floor, while mould and rot have again taken over the walls present directly underneath the Western Stand.

While the East and North stands have been given a face-lift with a lick of paint, the exterior structure needs urgent attention.

A walk up Magrath Road reveals some alarming sights that cannot be overlooked. The concrete blocks at the top of the Eastern stand, on the parapet wall, are on the verge of separating and are only being held together by bits of metal wire, some of which are protruding out dangerously.

The entire top structure is rapidly crumbling, a potential safety hazard and a certain disaster in the making.

Foundation pillars that once held the promise of a bright future have been taken over by vegetation. A crane sits motionless in front of the North Stand, over an open drain, a region notorious for snake bites. 

In 2015, the existing Bangalore Football Stadium was supposed to be torn down, and a new structure was planned in its place ahead of the 2017 U-17 World Cup. A FIFA delegation paid visit, but ruled that the facilities are inadequate as their deadline came and went.

Ozone and Hines Group won the Rs 675 crore bid for construction, but work never got underway after a long-drawn legal battle surrounding allegations over suspicious tender bids, as the current stadium sits on the BBMP land.

The strife between athletes and Bengaluru FC over the utilisation of the Sree Kanteerava Stadium should have been the impetus for an upgraded, top-notch football venue in the city. But barring the new turf, which was re-laid during the pandemic and floodlight towers installed in 2018, nothing else has been done for the upkeep of the stadium.

Kumar M, Karnataka State Football Association secretary, said, “We have requested Sporting Club (Bengaluru) to do repairs wherever they feel like. They have come forward voluntarily to get things done.

"Only the president (NA Haris) can answer why KSFA has not been able to handle this. Whether it is financial crunch, only he can tell," Kumar added.

So why not build a new stadium from scratch in a different place? Land acquisition and rising rent prices have made it challenging for the KSFA to identify an alternative place within the city for constructing a stadium. 

"We are hiring five different grounds on rent, it is very difficult to conduct all competitions with one ground. We are in touch over getting a new place, our President (NA) Haris is trying his level best to get land in KR Puram or Hosakote for building one more stadium," former India international and KSFA Deputy Secretary Aslam Ahmed Khan told DH.

"You know the condition of the (BFS) stadium, it is an old stadium. We are also worried. In Bengaluru, land is expensive. We should have another stadium to host more activities," Khan added.

"Anybody into football needs good infrastructure. Our president (Haris) is looking into having another stadium outside city limits," Bangalore District Football Association chairman S Magheshwaran Balu also confirmed.

Multiple calls to Haris went unanswered.

The same ground which played host to Bengaluru FC winning the I-League in their maiden season and is set to host Sporting Club Bengaluru's I-League matches is crying out for a massive revamp.

The Bangalore Football Stadium
The Bangalore Football Stadium

Credit: DH Photo/Pushkar V

Broken bottles and crumbling infrastructure pictured on the steps of Bangalore Football Stadium’s Western stand.

Broken bottles and crumbling infrastructure pictured on the steps of Bangalore Football Stadium’s Western stand. 

DH Photos/SK Dinesh

Leaking pipes in the dressing room section of the Bangalore Football Stadium.

Leaking pipes in the dressing room section of the Bangalore Football Stadium.

DH Photos\SK Dinesh

Published 11 July 2024, 15:47 IST

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