US President Donald Trump will attend an inauguration event for the world’s largest cricket stadium, with authorities in the Indian city of Ahmedabad seeking an attendance of 125,000 at the new Motera Stadium.
Trump was first linked to participating in the event last month, but it has now been confirmed that his first state visit to India will include taking in the new stadium. The White House has said Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will visit India on February 24-25. The President and First Lady will travel to New Delhi and Ahmedabad, which is in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.
The trip is designed to further strengthen the United States-India strategic partnership, with the Motera Stadium event reportedly set to echo the ‘Howdy Modi’ public reception staged for the Indian Prime Minister in Houston during his visit to the US in September. Trump participated in that event, which was attended by around 50,000 people, mostly Indian-Americans.
The 110,000-seat Motera Stadium has been under construction since January 2017 after the old venue, with a seating capacity of 53,000, was demolished in 2015. Populous has designed the stadium, which will be home to the Gujarat Cricket Association and is being built in collaboration with India’s top contractor, Larsen & Toubro.
Indian newspaper The Hindu said Trump’s trip will begin with the stadium ceremony, which will reportedly include a series of cultural pieces curated by “high-profile agencies and artistes”. The Gujarat government is said to have directed that the 110,000-seat stadium bowl be filled, with an additional 15,000 people able to sit on the field.
Speaking to reporters yesterday (Tuesday), Trump said Modi had told him at the weekend that millions of people will welcome him on the journey from the airport to the stadium, jokingly comparing that to the 40,000-50,000 crowd that he claimed attended a rally in New Hampshire on Monday.
Trump said: “When we have 50,000 people, I’m not going to feel so good… we’ll have five to seven million people just from the airport to the new stadium. And you know it is the largest stadium in the world. (They are) building it now. It’s almost complete and is the largest in the world.”
Once complete, Motera Stadium is set to usurp Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which has a seating capacity of 95,000, as the world’s biggest cricket venue. Eden Gardens in Kolkata is currently India’s largest cricket ground with a capacity of 62,000.
The new venue will have 76 corporate boxes, four-team dressing rooms and associated facilities, a state-of-the-art clubhouse and an Olympic-size swimming pool. It will also be connected to Ahmedabad’s metro rail system.
Image: Gujarat Cricket Association