There was something unique about the India-Australia ODI in Chandigarh. A couple of blocks in the stadium remained either almost or partially vacant throughout the match, a rare sight in ODIs in India.
Haryana Cricket Association president Ranbir Singh Mahendra explained the unusual occurrence. “We couldn’t sell the tickets of higher denomination as there weren’t enough takers,” he said. The HCA had tickets ranging from Rs 75 for students to a whopping Rs 7,500. In between, the other slots included Rs 250 for the general stand and Rs 2,500, Rs 3,000, Rs 5,000 for VIP and VVIP stands.
That brings one to the question: Why do associations price tickets beyond the reach of common people, especially when they earn crores through their share in telecast rights revenue and in-stadia advertisements?
It was gross injustice to fans who stood for hours to buy tickets, but had to return disappointed as the general block tickets vanished in no time. Even if one decided to shell out a few thousands more to sit in a so-called VIP block, what were the additional facilities one got. In Chandigarh, at least, all that people got for spending extra was a chair to sit on, while those in the general blocks had to sit on cemented stands. This additional royal facility came for a whopping Rs 2,500 — the next slot after the Rs 250 general stand ticket.
There could be seen a gradual increase in the number of VIP, VVIPS blocks vis-a-vis the general blocks, with the former eating into the share of the latter. In Chandigarh, the capacity of the general stands was equal to that of the VIP, VVIP stands, resulting in many of those seats remaining vacant and thousands kept standing outside the stadium.