MOHUN BAGAN KICKED OFF their pre-season practice this morning at their own stadium, but that wasn't the only thing fans were excited about.
Apart from the buzz around new signings like Kromah, Bayi Kamo, Chesterpaul Lyngdoh and others, Mohun Bagan are also planning a big move in terms of logistics.
After years of playing their home matches out of the Salt Lake Stadium, Barasat, Kalyani and Rabindra Sarobar, Mohun Bagan officials have said that they will play their I-League home games out of their own stadium; the Mohun Bagan Ground.
The 20,000 seater stadium situated right next to Eden Gardens has been the home of the club for decades but in recent years has not been used to host many competitive games, serving only as a training ground for the seniors and playing host to academy and junior team matches.
But last year the historic arena saw senior competitive matches return when it hosted most of Mohun Bagan's matches during the Calcutta Football League, under newly installed floodlights. The response was hugely positive as fans filled up the stadium for every single game.
The club moved its I-League home matches to Rabindra Sarobar to meet AFC criteria for their continental games but due to its awkward location in terms of fans coming from Howrah, North Kolkata and the suburbs the turnout in most games was lukewarm.
So the officials have decided to upgrade the infrastructure in the Mohun Bagan Ground to host the I-League matches right there. There are plans to build two extra floodlight stands, and three rooms under the Members' Gallery as away dressing room, referees' room and a dope test room. The Members' Gallery itself has recently been fitted with thousands of bucket seats and a new press box, once the upgradation is complete the Mohun Bagan Ground may come close to passing the AFC criteria.
To seek advice on what further renovations need to be done to the stadium, Mohun Bagan invited the I-League CEO Sunando Dhar to take a look at the facilities. Mr Dhar visited the club today and provided his opinion on what needs to be done.
The Mariners will start their season with the Calcutta Football League in August. Their I-League campaign will kick start come November. And it looks like that after more than a decade the fans will have a season full of matches to look forward to held at their club's true home ground.