Rourkela is a hockey hub

A new 20,000-seater stadium in India is being earmarked as “the best venue for hockey in the world” ahead of the 2023 men’s World Cup.

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik last month announced that the new world-class hockey stadium would be built in Rourkela, making it the largest stadium for the sport in the country.

The Rourkela stadium will act as the second venue for the 2023 Hockey World Cup to the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. Last week marked two years to go until India hosts the event for a record fourth time, with 2023 also marking 75 years of independence in India.

Rourkela – the stadium is set for completion in mid-2022 – is a hockey hub but has never hosted a national or international tournament in any sport.

The Rourkela facility will sit on 15 acres of land at the Biju Patnaik University of Technology campus in the Steel City of Odisha.

Conducting the World Cup matches there, however, could prove to be a logistical problem for the competing teams as the two cities are almost 350km apart and at the moment, the only option to travel from Bhubaneswar to Rourkela is by road.

“I hope it will emerge as the best venue for field hockey in the world,” Patnaik said last month.

“Popularity of hockey can be seen across the district. The support of people of the district to hockey players is unparalleled anywhere in the world.”

Senior state officials plus an FIH delegate have visited the stadium to review infrastructure.

The 2023 Men’s World Cup is due to be held from January 13- 29 in Odisha.

India will become the first nation to host four men’s World Cups after hosting the 1982 (Mumbai), 2010 (New Delhi) and 2018 (Bhubaneswar) tournaments.