The Sahara Group and a consortium that calls itself Rendezvous Sports World became proud owners of two new Indian Premier League (IPL) teams, based in Pune and Kochi respectively, on Sunday.
These will be part of the tournament in the IPL’s next season.
<b1>When the invitation to tender for new teams was first cancelled on March 7, detractors of the league licked their lips claiming the $225 million (Rs 1,122 crore) base price was absurdly high, given that it was more than double what was paid for the highest team when the IPL began in 2008.
They whispered no one would be willing to pay out such large sums, and the bidding process would be a fiasco. On Sunday, when Lalit Modi, commissioner and chairman of the League, announced the results of the bid process, there was an audible gasp from the audience gathered at a hotel in Chennai.
Sahara submitted the highest bid of $370 million (Rs 1,702 crore) for three cities — Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Pune — and then chose Pune.
Pune is one of the most rapidly expanding cities in the country, when they had to nominate one venue. “When we considered the cities, in terms of infrastructure and logistics, Pune came first,” Abhijit Sarkar, head of Sahara’s corporate communications, said. “It is also close to Mumbai – the commercial capital of India – and Aamby Valley (an up-market township in Lonavala, close to Pune, owned by the Sahara group).”
The second-highest bid, among the five submitted, was that of Rendezvous Sports World, who will shell out $333.33 million (Rs 1533.32 crore) for the Kochi franchise.
Leading Malayalam film actor Mohanlal and director Priyadarshan are said to be at the core of the Kochi group that also has as partners Parini Developers, Anand Shah Estate, Anchor Earth Private Limited and Film Waves.
While Sahara is expected to have the under-construction stadium of the Maharashtra Cricket Association at Gahunje on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway as their base, Modi clarified till the “world class stadium in Kochi” is ready, the franchise will decide venues for their home matches in consultation with the IPL and the BCCI.
A player auction in late September or early October, will help teams pick players. Existing franchises will be allowed to retain a certain number of players who were contracted to them till the end of IPL season III. The modalities of this auction and the catchment areas for the new teams are yet to be worked out.