Ground Guide : Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, Pune
Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium is the new stadium in Pune, which was unveiled during the 2011-12 domestic season, and then went on to host the IPL games for Pune Warriors India- their home ground. The stadium is situated between the Pune-Mumbai Expressway and the old Pune-Mumbai Road, near the village of Gahunje.
This post is based on the personal experience of watching one IPL match and based on discussions with and comments from others who are in the same boat. If any key points have been missed, or there is more relevant information which has been overlooked, please post in the Comments section below.
Getting there from Pune
From the Pune city, one can take the Mumbai-Bangalore bypass which heads to the Expressway. The other option, and the one less prone to traffic is to head from Aundh towards Pimple Saudagar area, drive straight past Dange Chowk to Ravet.
Just before the Expressway, there is a small road created specifically for the stadium entrance. There were clear road signs leading to the ground at least from the Ravet side, which is the road we took. There was ample police presence to guide people to the parking area, not just while getting in to the ground but also at the time of exit.
As always in Pune, driving yourself to the stadium is the best way. There is no public transport worth a mention to the ground.
Getting there from Mumbai / Navi Mumbai
Just take the Expressway (or the old highway for those who like driving on undulating stretches) and follow the directions to the stadium on the Pune side of the highway.
Parking facilities for 4 wheelers
Entering from the Pune side, there are 2 options to park cars. The small road on the side of Expressway which leads to the stadium bifurcates in to two parts. If you take the left stretch, you will reach the parking on the other side of Expressway, from where you need to walk 15-20 minutes to the ground. If you take the right stretch, you go under the Expressway and park close to the ground.
Parking near the ground was well lit and orderly. It is then easier to reach the ground – may be a 5-10 minute walk. However getting to this parking would take its own time so some time needs to be kept in hand. Parking on the Expressway side had two options- a paid one (probably a local villagers’ enterprise) and a free one. The paid parking involved INR 100 (approximately US$2) charge and was not very well lit. However it was closer to the exit on the way back. Both the parking lots had several people around to help and guide. From this parking area, one has to walk through ditches, dirt paths and some tropical bushes to get to the stadium. Those traveling with kids and families may find it difficult to make this journey, especially in the night on the way back. Also wearing shoes rather than the open Indian sandals is advisable if you plan to park on this side – just in case you rendezvous with one of the many unfriendly hot weather reptilian creatures.
The only advantage of parking on the Expressway side was a quick exit after the match. Those who parked near the stadium reported delays in getting back home. So there is a trade-off involved in the parking location decision.
Getting in to the ground
The queues to enter the stadium area were orderly (though of course noisy). There were several checkpoints. No water bottles or cameras were allowed- the same was printed on the tickets overleaf as part of the instructions. The actual ground entry involved reading the bar code on the ticket at the turnstiles, to prevent fraudulent ticket holders from entering. I have not seen that elsewhere in my limited live cricket viewing experience in India.
The stadium area is very comfortable. There is ample space to move around and unlike several Indian grounds where the main road and the ground are as close as Yuvraj and Sachin, there is good room to move around. The ground can easily deal with two or three times the crowds than the current capacity, so that augurs well for future expansion.
The ground has bucket seats, which were very well designed and comfortable. The rows and seats were clearly numbered. Though of course many people were not following the numbers and there were several arguments to have people vacate the seats for original ticket holders. Also, some individuals did not care for the public property and stood on the seats to shout and dance- quite likely the bucket seats will not have a long life as the IPL season progresses.
The plight of Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) was well highlighted in this article by local newspaper Mid Day: http://www.mid-day.com/sports/2012/apr/140412-sports-Unruly-crowd-behavior-leaves-MCA-poorer.htm
At present, the stadium has only one multi-level seating area where the main pavilion is located. This area also has the corporate hospitality boxes and high priced personalized cubicle areas to watch the match from. The tickets for these areas seem to range from INR 4000 to Rs 8000 (approximately US$80-US$160).
The south east, south west and north stands seem to the most popular, with tickets priced between INR 800 and INR 1500 (approximately US$16-US$30) depending on the opposition. These three stands offer a view spanning square third man – fine leg / wide long on – wide long off.
The east stand and west stand which offered a view from the square angle and the student stand located above the pavilion were priced lower.
At least for the IPL season 2012, the tickets could be booked online via www.bookmyshow.com, with an option for home delivery in India or collecting the tickets at pre-defined points in Pune (INOX theatre and Deccan Gymkhana – both involving long queues as reported by some).
Given that the ground does not have multi level seating as of now, it was much more bearable compared to the Mumbai grounds (Wankhede, DY Patil). Heat and sweat- the usual Indian cricket watching accompaniments were manageable. Also helps that I watched a 8 pm game- may be the 4 pm ones will test the viewers more thoroughly.
This is where the experience went downhill. The security did not allow carrying anything- not even chocolate bars inside the ground. There was food on sale in the stands- pizzas, soft drinks, ice creams and refreshments.
But to drink water, one had to go out of the stands near the stairwells. While the stalls there were manned, the water provisions ran out during the innings break. The water was provided in small plastic dispenses, and had to be consumed outside, as the security was not allowing taking those dispenses in the ground. That changed in the second innings as people were allowed to carry water, but that resulted in people hoarding these water dispensers. Nonetheless, if consuming water frequently on a summer day is an absolute requirement for you, the cricket viewing will get compromised in a big way, with frequent visits to the water stalls.
In some stands, people observed the stall owners mixing questionable quality ice and drinking water with the soft drinks which were being served at the stall and in the stands.
The mobile signal in the ground was patchy. While the GSM connectivity worked fine through the approach to the stadium and in the ground, the GPRS/EDGE data connectivity across top three telecom providers in the stands was poor. So posting pictures in real time on Facebook and Twitter became very difficult.
The stadium is tastefully built, for which one needs to thank the Sahara Parivaar and the MCA. The outfield is lush green and the viewer facilities inside the stadium much better than other Indian stadia. As more international matches come to Pune, starting with an India-England T20I later in 2012, the issues around security and crowd management and hopefully parking will get sorted out.
A visit certainly makes for a good evening outing during IPL 5 for those living in Pune or in Mumbai / Navi Mumbai.