Bhubaneswar: Amid controversy over the status of the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela among major stadiums across the world, the Odisha government has said it is the “largest hockey facility in the world in terms of seating capacity and is certified by the International Ice Hockey Federation (FIH).
The Rourkela facility will host the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup along with the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
The tournament will be held between January 13 and 29.
After Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the “world’s largest hockey stadium” in Rourkela on Thursday, a BJP MLA disputed the claim, saying it was the “fourth”.
“The Birsa Munda hockey stadium in Rourkela is the biggest in the world. We are not saying that. The FIH has confirmed that the stadium is the biggest in terms of seating capacity,” Sports and Youth Affairs Minister TK Behera said.
BJP MP Shankar Oram from Biramitrapur in Sundergarh district claimed that the 45,000-capacity National Hockey Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan is the largest in the world.
It is followed by Chandigarh Hockey Stadium (30,000) and Weingart Stadium (multi-purpose) in Los Angeles, USA (22,355).
“The Bisra Munda Hockey Stadium is number four,” he said, wondering how the Chief Minister called it “the biggest in the world”.
Odisha’s Sports Secretary R Vaineel Krishna earlier clarified to the Press Trust of India that the Bisra Munda Hockey Stadium is the biggest as 20,000 people can formally sit and witness the match which is not available anywhere in India.
Other stadiums in India could have the capacity for more people, but that includes “standing room accommodation”, he said.
The Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar has a seating arrangement for 15,000 people.
Birsa Munda Stadium also has a World Cup Village with 225 rooms for 400 players and officials. Out of the total 44 matches of the World Cup, 20 will be played in Rourkela.