After waiting for seven long years, Chittagong's MA Aziz Stadium will once again step into the international cricketing spotlight with the matches of the second season of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) beginning at the venue today. In the first match the Chittagong Kings will take on Sylhet Royals, and in the evening match the Barisal Burners will face off against Duronto Rajshahi.
Unlike the lack of crowd interest for most of the games in Khulna, organisers believe that matches in Chittagong will witness a good turnout over the ten matches stretching from today till February 2 with a break on January 30. According to Omar Goni Chowdhury, member of the ticket distribution committee, 15,000 tickets for the first day have already been sold. MA Aziz Stadium's maximum capacity is 20,000.
The sale of tickets began on January 24 and will continue in three branches -- Nizam road, Dampara and Kadamtali -- of United Commercial Bank Ltd (UCBL), and five Airtel outlets. Fans can also buy tickets on the day of the matches from the Gymnasium building and another booth adjacent to the venue. Tickets will also be available in 10 private outlets set up at different points in city.
The MA Aziz Stadium was the site of Bangladesh's first Test win against Zimbabwe on January 10, 2005. It was the seventh and last Test held at the venue, which also hosted eight ODIs.
Around Tk 2.15 crore has been spent to renovate and facelift the stadium in preparation for its return to cricket. The floodlights, dressing rooms, media centre, pavilion and the playing field have all been improved, said local organisers.
Organisers hope that success in BPL's Chittagong leg will pave the way for the city to host matches of the ICC World Twenty20 in 2014. Starting today, the BPL matches will continue till February 2 with a break on January 30.
To make the event successful and attract spectators, the local organisers also declared many awards for the ticket holders. Manjur Alam, mayor of the Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) said that the corporation will distribute over 2,000 tickets to students of schools run by CCC.
AZM Nasir Uddin, Secretary of Chittagong Jela Krira Sangstha (CJKS) urged all cricket fans of the city to enjoy the matches peacefully so that no untoward incidents take place. “Chittagong has a good reputation in the cricket arena and we want to uphold it,” he added.