Lucknow’s new 50,000-seat cricket stadium was renamed in honour of former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as it was inaugurated yesterday (Tuesday) with a Twenty20 international between India and the West Indies.
Formerly known as Ekana International Cricket Stadium, the venue’s new title will be Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium. The facility, which is now India’s third largest cricket stadium, made its debut with a sell-out crowd as India sealed a series victory with a 71-run win over the tourists.
Vajpayee, who died in August, was a Member of Parliament from Lucknow, the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, for five consecutive terms between 1991 and 2009, as well as serving three terms as Prime Minister.
Tuesday’s match marked Lucknow’s first international cricket game for 25 years. The Ekana Group was awarded the land to develop the stadium, which has cost a reported Rs4.7bn (£49m/€56.3m/$64.7m), by the Lucknow Development Authority in 2015.
Speaking at the stadium inauguration, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, according to NDTV.com: “We plan to promote not just cricket, but all sports across the country. Our Prime Minister has a grand vision for sports in India. We aim to set up large playgrounds in all villages across the country.
“We are even constructing a big stadium in Ghaziabad, and soon, that too will have a grand opening.”