Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium (Malayalam: ജവഹര്ലാല് നെഹ്റു ഇന്റര്നാഷണല് സ്റ്റേഡിയം; locally known as Kaloor International Stadium – Malayalam: കലൂര് ഇന്റര്നാഷണല് സ്റ്റേഡിയം) is a multipurpose international stadium situated in Kochi, Kerala. The stadium has a capacity of 60,500 spectators making it one of the largest stadiums in India. The capacity can be stretched to 75,000 which indeed, makes it the largest stadium in India currently(though the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad and the Greater Noida Cricket Stadium are coming up with seating capacities of 100,000 each). The stadium was built in 1996 by the Government of Kerala with Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA). The stadium is widely touted to be one of the most noisiest cricket stadium in the world due to its distinctive architecture, however it is to be noted here that the stadium was originally built as a football stadium.
The Kaloor Stadium (there are many other stadiums named ‘Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium’) has played host to a number of international cricket and football matches. The extensive grounds of the stadium serve as venue for important exhibitions, cinema events and political rallies in the city. The most innovative aspect of the stadium is its unique lighting towers of 2 kW Floodlights which when switched on fully can provide lighting levels for HD telecast. The Structure of the tower is itself one of a kind in India. Greater Cochin Development Authority leased out the Jawaharlal Nehru International stadium at Kaloor to the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) for a period of 30 years.
The stadium acts as the home ground for teams including Kerala cricket team, Kerala Blasters FC (Indian Super League).
Kochi is selected as one of the six host cities for 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held in India. This stadium will be the venue for matches in Kochi.
Early years and Football’s popularity
The Kaloor Stadium was originally constructed as a football stadium, considering that Kerala is one of the few regions in India where Football enjoys considerable popularity. Indeed, in a match between India and Iraq in 1997, approximately 100,000 spectators filled up the venue, thus overcrowding it, which remains a record at this place. This was in the Nehru Cup International Football Tournament in 1997, which was the first tournament at the venue.
After 1998, football went down and Cricket took the centre-stage for many years, drawing sell-out games and high money grossers. In fact, the highest money grosser at the venue was made in a cricket ODI match between India and its arch-rival Pakistan on April 2005. The first ODI played on this ground was between India and Australia on 1 April 1998.
Kaloor stadium hosted the first match India played after Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement. The pavilion was renamed as Sachin Tendulkar pavilion as an honour to him before this match between India and West Indies on 21 November 2013 which India won by 6 wickets.
The stadium underwent a massive renovation including a modern turf, an aesthetic modern roofing and a four-lane road from the south side of the stadium.
The first Indian Premier League game at the stadium was on 9 April 2011, when the Kochi Tuskers Kerala hosted the Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was the first IPL match for the Kochi Tuskers. Five of their 2011 home games were played in this stadium, and the other two were played at the Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore. The stadium hosted the semi-final and final of the 2013 Duleep trophy.
Return of Football and the ISL
In 2011, Chirag United claimed the tenancy of the venue. However, the premier football club of India was still not able to fill up the stadium’s massive capacity. Football returned to prominence at the venue after the launch of Indian Super League in 2014. The stadium is the home ground to Kerala Blasters, co-owned by Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who has massive fan-following in the city. Some of the games involving the home team drew crowds in excess of 55,000 in the inaugural edition.
The first Indian Super League game at the stadium was on 6 November 2014, when the Kerala Blasters FC hosted the FC Goa. It was the first ISL match for the Kerala Blasters. The stadium had an average attendance of over 40000 for the Indian Super Leaguematches in 2014.
The game between Kerala Blasters FC and Chennaiyin FC saw 61,323 spectators on 30 November 2014.