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Pakistan announces ambitious cricket stadium upgrade plan ahead of ICC Champions Trophy

Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Pakistan

Featured image credit: Fahads1982 /  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license / Resized

Pakistan’s cricket authority has announced an ambitious upgrade programme for stadiums after naming Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi as its three choices to stage games at next year’s ICC Champions Trophy competition.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will next week welcome a host of international companies to discuss the redevelopment project. PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi said the upgrades to the three stadiums could be completed in as little as four months.

The international operators will visit Pakistan on May 7 after which they will contract local consultants to finalise the designs of the stadium ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy, which is scheduled for February 2025.

The three host stadiums that have been proposed have not had serious upgrades for a number of years. Karachi’s National Stadium and Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium date back to the 1950s. Plans to upgrade Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, which was built in the early 1990s, were first mooted in 2018.

Enhancing spectator experiences

Naqvi said the project will put a focus on enhancing spectator experiences including expanded seating arrangements for greater comfort and accessibility. Work on Gaddafi Stadium will commence first.

Naqvi told reporters: “If you look at Gaddafi, it is good, but the viewing experience is not great for cricket. Football maybe, not cricket.

“We need to improve facilities in the stadiums, where there are some old problems. [The National Stadium in] Karachi is in bad shape.

“So, on May 7, we’ll finalise bids from international companies who will come and help us design. We will work with local consultants as well. We are already late but we need to do these upgrades in four-five months. It will be a very tough test but we can do it.”

Karachi’s National Stadium has a capacity of 34,200, while Gaddafi Stadium can hold 27,000. Rawalpindi has a capacity of just 15,000.

Pakistan last held an ICC event back in 1996, when they co-hosted the ODI World Cup with India and Sri Lanka. Security concerns since then have led to long periods when Pakistan did not host any international cricket, particularly after a terrorist attack that targeted the visiting Sri Lankan team in 2009.

The PCB is confident that India will participate in the Champions Trophy despite media speculation that security concerns will lead to their withdrawal.