On his maiden visit to India, US President Donald Trump will travel to Ahmedabad, New Delhi and Agra. But it will be in Ahmedabad, once the capital of Gujarat, a state Prime Minister Narendra Modi ruled as the chief minister for close to 15 years, where the Modi-Trump bonhomie will be on display for the world to see.
On 24 February, Trump will be welcomed at the reconstructed Motera Stadium, also known as Sardar Patel Stadium, which is now the world’s largest cricket stadium and second-largest sports stadium. The event is called ‘Namaste Trump’, in response to Modi’s welcome in the United States last September with ‘Howdy Modi!’.
In his latest claim, the US President boasted that 10 million people will line up to greet him in Ahmedabad as his 22-km roadshow travels from the airport to the Motera Stadium. He had earlier said Modi had told him there will be between five and seven million people to welcome them. Regardless of the number, Motera Stadium is where all international eyes will be when Modi does a Namaste to Trump. This is why Motera Stadium is The Print’s Newsmaker of the Week.
Also read: ‘Won’t feel good about size of crowd in US now’ — Trump ahead of his India visit
At a rally in Colorado Thursday, Trump said, “I hear, they are going to have 10 million people… along the route to one of the largest stadiums in the world… which is brand new and beautiful.”
This ‘brand new and beautiful’ stadium named after Sardar Patel is in the Motera locality of Ahmedabad and is therefore commonly referred to as Motera Stadium. It has been reconstructed at a cost of Rs 700 crore and replaced Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia to become the world’s largest cricket stadium, with a seating capacity of more than 1,10,000 people. The May Day Stadium in North Korea, the world’s largest stadium, can seat 1,14,000 people.
The idea to reconstruct the stadium came just months before Modi was to move to New Delhi in 2014 to assume prime ministership. Motera Stadium is owned by the Gujarat Cricket Association, which both Modi and Amit Shah have headed in the past, in 2009 and 2015, respectively.
Trump attending a welcoming ceremony at the home ground of Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah is indicative of the duo’s new way of showing power and flexing their muscles in the game of diplomacy. It also goes to show that ostentatiousness and politics go hand in hand.
One could argue that it is the flamboyance of Motera Stadium that Trump would witness. It’s a stadium where Kapil Dev took nine wickets in a single innings in 1983, where Sunil Gavaskar became the first cricketer to score 10,000 runs in test cricket (in 1987). It’s the stadium that will be the focal point of the visit and help draw the attention away from the impending trade deal or various other negotiations between India and the US.
Also read: Trump’s India trip will feature a full stadium and mostly empty promises
Stadiums of show
In the digital age, sports stadiums are no longer restricted to the game. They have become a spectacle themselves. The stadiums no longer serve the sole purpose of showcasing a sport. They are a stage for people to turn to for a good time, to be entertained, to be seen on giant screens, and to be able to document their experience on social media.
Be it Camp Nou, the home ground of FC Barcelona or the largest stadium in Europe, Old Trafford or Wembley Stadium, sports stadiums have moved beyond the game of soccer or cricket and are an attraction unto themselves. The same applies for American football stadiums that dominate the list of the world’s largest sports stadiums – from Michigan Stadium to Beaver Stadium, Ohio Stadium to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Perhaps with Trump visiting the new Motera Stadium, the world’s largest cricket arena will move beyond the sport and become a spectacle itself – reinventing a new kind of diplomacy, an assertion of dominance and flamboyance.
Cricket will be and always be popular sport in india …..it will soon make world record in attendance …. remember it..more people will come cricket … remember it ..
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