Football is one of the most popular sports in the world. The sport is played by more than hundred countries. India has been linked with the sport for a long time. Though it may not have been able to perform impressively at the international level the passion of the millions of football fans in the country has kept the game alive in India.
Today, it hosts one of the most popular football leagues in the country Viz. ISL. India was also the host of the Under 17 FIFA World Cup in 2017. It was also set to host the 2020 Under 17 FIFA Women’s World Cup but due to COVID it has been postponed to 2021. Since we have already entered 2021 we decided to do a list regarding football stadiums in the country.
Here is a list of the 10 largest football stadiums in India:
Narender Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad
Narender Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. It is mainly used for cricket matches but over the years it has been the field for football matches as well. This is why we have included this in the list. This stadium has got a lot of capacity and can seat over 110,000 people in it. That’s huge. That number makes it the largest cricket stadium in the world and the second-largest stadium overall. The stadium is currently owned by the Gujarat Cricket Association. It is named after one of the greatest political leaders of India.
The construction of the stadium began in 1982 when the government donated a huge stretch of land for it. The contractor for this build was Larsen and Toubro. Before the construction of this stadium, the international matches were mainly held in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Stadium.
The first international match held at this stadium was in 1983 when India faced the West Indies in a Test series. In 2015, the stadium was demolished and the renovations started. It took almost 5 years to totally complete the reconstruction process and allegedly cost around Rs. 800 cores. It was this stadium where Modi hosted the welcoming of the then US President Donald Trump.
Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
The next stadium on the list is situated in Kolkata. It is a football stadium which has seen some of the best matches in Indian football history. It is called the Salt Lake Stadium colloquially as it is present near that place but its official name is Vivekananda Tina Bharati Krirangan. The stadium can currently hold up to 85k people at a time. It is the second-largest football stadium in the world. Until 1989 the Salt Lake Stadium was the biggest football stadium in the world.
It lost that title after the construction of Rungrado May Day Stadium in North Korea. The Salt Lake Stadium is the home ground to two of the most popular football clubs of India Viz. ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.The stadium was built because the then-largest stadium in the city could only hold 20k people.
In 2017, the final match of the Under 17 FIFA World Cup was held in this stadium. The stadium had artificial turf for some time. They had to change it to natural grass to host the Under 17 FIFA World Cup. This renovation of the stadium cost over $14 million. The stadium is regularly used for holding both national and international football matches.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi
The next stadium is in Delhi. It is the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India. This is why a lot of public properties are named after him. In this list, you will find a couple of more stadiums which are named after Jawaharlal Nehru. The Delhi stadium is one of the largest in India. It has the capacity to seat a total of 60,254 spectators making it comparable to some of the biggest football stadiums in the world. This is a stadium which hosts both athletic as well as football events. This is why it has been made to the standard specification of international bodies like FIFA, Asian Football Confederation, and International Association of Athletic Federations.
It was constructed in 1982 and then rebuilt in 2010. It cost over Rs. 961 crores or $150 million. This made it the most expensive stadium in India and South Asia. This renovation was done to modernize the stadium to host the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Prior to that the stadium has hosted various notable events including the Asian Championships in Athletics in 1989. When it comes to football the stadium has hosted the South Asian Football Federation Cup in 2011.
When India hosted the Under 17 FIFA World Cup this stadium was one of the stadiums used for the matches. Currently, it is used extensively for the Indian Super League which is the national professional football League.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi
Kochi is a major port city of India and is part of Kerala. It is the largest and most populated city in the state. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is situated in Kaloor, Kochi. This is why it is often called the Kaloor stadium. The stadium has been consistently holding international and national cricket and football matches. But after the advent of ISL the stadium stopped hosting cricket matches. This is a large football stadium and is used for various events which require people assembling in a large place like political rallies, cinema events, exhibitions etc. The construction of the stadium was sanctioned by the then Chief Minister of the state Late K. Karunakaran.
The Greater Cochin Development Authority was responsible for the building of the stadium. It was led by V. Joseph IPS. The group worked efficiently and were able to finish the project ahead of schedule in 1996. The architecture of the stadium is quite distinctive. Due to this, it is one of the noisiest football stadiums in the world. The total seating capacity for the stadium is 60,500 people. But during the Indian Super League only the middle and lower tiers are available for booking dropping the total capacity during the match to 39,000. When the Under 17 FIFA World Cup was held in India, the Kaloor stadium was one of the venue’s to host the matches. The stadium has also been the host to 10 cricket ODIs.
Municipal Corporation Stadium, Kozhikode
Up next, is another large football stadium from Kerala. This time it is situated in Rajaji Road at Kozhikode. It is often referred to as the EMS Stadium having been named after E. M. S. Namboodiripad, the first Chief Minister of the state. The stadium was built in 1977 and has the capacity to hold over 80 thousand spectators. This is why it is one of the largest football stadiums in India. But due to restrictions from FIFA the stadium could only seat 53k spectators. The current owner of the stadium is the Kozhikode Corporation. In the later years, the stadium was reconstructed to meet the international standards. It has decent floodlights to be able to hold matches at night.
The media and experts often refer to this stadium as the best football pitch in the country. Currently, the tenants of the stadium are the Kerala football team, Kerala United FC, Gokulam Kerala FC and the National football team of the country. Earlier, State Bank of India Kerala Football Club and Viva Kerala were the tenants. The stadium has hosted a lot of international friendly football matches. It has also been the venue for the football matches during the 35th National Games.
Greenfield International Stadium, Thiruvananthapuram
The Greenfield International Stadium is located at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. Kerala seems to have some of the best football stadiums in the country. Thiruvananthapuram also referred to as Trivandrum is the capital city of Kerala. It has a population of around 1.68 million people making it one of the most populated cities in the state. It is a beautiful city with lots of greenery and low coastal hills. The Greenfield International Stadium is also known as The Sports Hub.
It is a design, build, operate transfer stadium. It was leased by the Kerala University for a period of 15 years. The rent was Rs. 94 lakhs per year and the construction company which built it will have operational control over it for the 15-year period post which it will be handed back to the Kerala University. The stadium has been constructed and designed so that both international cricket matches as well as football matches can be played on it.
It meets all the standard specifications set by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). It has a seating capacity of 55k spectators. This is India’s first fully eco-friendly stadium. It is surrounded by greenery on all sides and also has facilities to harvest rainwater. The construction cost of the stadium was around Rs. 390 crores ($55 million). The stadium has hosted a few cricket ODIs and many football matches.
Kanchenjunga Stadium, Siliguri
Let’s move out of Kerala now and take a look at the football stadiums in other states. We are back at West Bengal with the next entry. The Kanchenjunga Stadium is situated in Siliguri which is a hill station in India. The stadium is also referred to as Kanchenjunga Krirangan. It is a multi-purpose stadium which is mainly used for cricket and football matches. The capacity of the stadium is 40,000 making it one of the largest stadiums in the state of West Bengal. The stadium is the home ground to the Kanchenjunga FC. It has hosted many popular national football matches including a couple of Kolkata derby matches.
The Kolkata derby is the name given to any match played between the iconic national professional football clubs Viz. ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. It is also a stadium where many important cricket matches have been played including 11 Ranji Trophy matches the first of which was held in 2010. The stadium was meant to be upgraded in 2014. A newly formed committee Viz. The Siliguri Mahakuma Krira Parishad has prioritized the upgrade for the stadium and is looking to seek the help of the government for this purpose. It is a nice stadium to watch football matches with very helpful staff.
DY Patil Sports Stadium, Navi Mumbai
The DY Patil Stadium is situated in Navi Mumbai. It is also called DY Patil Sports Stadium and is regularly used for football and cricket matches. The stadium was designed by Hafeez Contractor who is a popular Indian architect attributed to designing some of the most impressive skyscrapers in India including the three tallest buildings in the country. He is the recipient of Padma Bhushan (the third-highest civilian award in the country). The stadium is currently the second home ground to Mumbai City FC. It was also the home ground for the IPL cricket team Mumbai Indians. It has hosted several IPL matches including the finals of the year 2008 and 2010.
In 2014, the stadium became the home ground to Mumbai City FC which is a professional football club in the Indian Super League. This has led to the stadium hosting many of the ISL matches. It also hosted matches for the Under 17 FIFA World Cup that was held in India. The current capacity of the stadium allows it to hold over 55k spectators. This makes it the 9th-largest cricket stadium in India. The stadium was set to be one of the venue’s for the 2020 Under 17 FIFA Women’s World Cup including the final match. But due to COVID it has been postponed to 2021. The DY Patil Stadium has bucket seats and cantilever roofs. This design eliminates the need for any columns. Other facilities of the stadium include 4 badminton courts, 9 tennis courts, and a swimming pool of Olympic standards.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai
Up next, we have another stadium named after the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. It is a stadium situated in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and is a multi-purpose stadium hosting both cricket and football matches along with other sports. It has a capacity to hold over 40k spectators at the main stadium. Other facilities including an indoor stadium that can seat 5000 spectators and hosts volleyball, basketball and table tennis matches. During the Indian Super League, the stadium only allows a total of 19,484 spectators. Currently, the stadium is the home ground for two football clubs Viz. Tamil Nadu Football Team and Chennaiyin FC.
The former is a local state football team and the latter is a professional team in the Indian Super League. The surface of the stadium is grass and it was opened in 1993. Earlier, this spot was the location for the Madras Zoo before it was moved to Vandalur. The stadium was renovated in 2012 which cost $1.7 million. In the next year, more upgrades were done which saw the addition of a warm-up track and the upgrade of the synthetic athletics track. This renovation costs $4.6 million dollars. The stadium has hosted many international football matches including the matches during the Nehru Cup International Tournament. It has also hosted the SAF Games football in 1995. This stadium is a nice place to host international football matches as it keeps up with the specifications set by FIFA and has decent security aspects.
Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati
The last football stadium on this list is the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium. It is situated in Guwahati, Assam. Guwahati is the capital city of the state of Assam. It is a beautiful city making it a popular tourist spot in the country. The Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium is also known as the Sarusajai stadium due to it being situated at that locality. This stadium had a capacity to seat over 35k spectators. But after installing bucket seats to meet the specifications of FIFA to host the Under 17 FIFA World Cup in 2017 the capacity was reduced to 25k.
The stadium has been the host to many important sports events in the country including the 33rd National Games and the South Asian Games. It holds ISL matches and is the home ground for ISL professional team Northeast United and the Indian National football team. The stadium saw maximum attendance in 2016 for a match between the aforementioned Northeast United and another ISL professional team, Chennaiyin. There were over 32,844 spectators in the stadium during this match. It has hosted international friendly matches and world cup qualifiers for the Indian National football team.
So, that’s our list. We hope you got to learn something and had a nice time finding out about the largest football stadiums in India.