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Heat, pointless contest keep spectators away

cricket Updated: May 16, 2011 23:58 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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As the Pune Warriors faced Deccan Chargers in their penultimate home league tie on Monday, the mood of the meaningless contest was well and truly reflected in the stands of the Dr DY Patil Sports Stadium, where more seats were vacant than they were occupied.

That both the teams are out of reckoning for a berth in the play-offs made matters worst. The team owners had been worried about fans coming to the ground because the Indian Premier League was scheduled to start less than a week after the World Cup. But India's triumph did change that mood to some extent.

Still, except for the Wankhede Stadium, MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore and the Eden Gardens in Kolkata to a certain extent, the IPL mania has failed to catch on.

At the Eden Gardens, the biggest cricket ground in the country, ticket prices were reduced after the first home and the turnout improved. The last game, against Chennai Super Kings, saw a packed house. With the Kolkata Knight Riders on a high, the fans are expected to flock in for the final home game as well, against the Mumbai Indians on May 22.

The home of Mumbai Indians has been the only stadium that has seen a full house for every match, thanks to the Sachin Tendulkar phenomenon.

The situation at venues like Navi Mumbai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Mohali and Jaipur has been worse than expected.

"It was shocking to see people not coming in at centres that didn't host a single World Cup game," said a franchise official, requesting anonymity.

Some matches at Jaipur and Hyderabad have looked like Ranji Trophy games, where 1,000 spectators are considered more than decent.

"It was quite funny playing Rajasthan (in Jaipur) the other day as it was some sort of an open stadium. It makes a difference when you play ten matches before a reasonably good crowd," CSK bowling coach Andy Bichel said last week.

The soaring temperatures make it difficult for fans to sit in the stands, especially in the afternoon games, but high ticket prices haven't helped either.

"Since the gate revenue goes to the home teams, the owners seem to have missed the trick when it came to pricing," an IPL insider said. "Anyway, they had too much cricket with the World Cup. To add to it, if the lowest ticket is around Rs 500, how many people do you expect to come in?"

Even the IPL hierarchy doesn't seem to have learnt a lesson. Guess what's the minimum ticket price for the IPL final in Chennai on May 28? Rs 3000!