“Lalit Modi must be laughing at them. For Mumbai Indians playing a qualifier at the Wankhede Stadium, he would have ensured the stands were overflowing," a Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) official said sarcastically as he surveyed the empty seats in the stadium during the Indian Premier League eliminator tie on Wednesday.
There were just a handful of people in the upper tiers of the Divecha and Garware Pavilions. Same was the case in the Vijay Merchant Pavilion and the middle rung of the Sachin Tendulkar stand. Only the Sunil Gavaskar stand for Rs 500 and Rs 1000 ticket-holders was packed. That too for a game in which big guns like Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma and Jacques Kallis were playing.
That meant the season’s biggest game involving Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium had the lowest turnout. Most of their league matches were sold out.
The marketing and sale of tickets for the league matches were done by the host franchises while the qualifiers and the final are being handled by the parent body, IPL. The peeved MCA officials called it a marketing disaster. “Despite being advised against it, the event management company doubled the rates. The grandstand ticket which was priced at Rs 5000 was upped to Rs 12000, the Rs 625 stand tickets were hiked to Rs 2000, 1250 to 3000, 1875 to 4000,” said the official.
The empty seats resulted despite 15% of the tickets being given away free by the MCA.