With the cash-strapped government deciding to open sports stadium doors to private functions, celebrities can now perform in front of gigantic audiences in central locations of our cities.
The sports ministry wants to hand over the responsibility of maintaining stadiums to private players, in return for the right to earn revenue through renting space. “We will allow renting out stadiums for all kinds of events, with the exception of political rallies, marriages and religious congregations,” said a senior sports ministry functionary.
There are 109 stadiums under the Sports Authority of India, including the biggest – the Jawaharlal Nehru (JLN) Stadium in Delhi – and others with various state governments. The JLN Stadium would be the first to be handed over to a private player, government officials said.
The new public-private-partnership policy would apply to all governments that do not have the resources to maintain the stadiums. According to the sports ministry, infrastructure worth Rs 10,0000 crore – developed for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and National Games in Ranchi – is at risk of going waste due to lack of maintenance.
On an average, the ministry received Rs 1,100 crore in the last two budgets, with a very small amount being allocated for maintenance of sports infrastructure. “There isn’t enough money because the ministry budget has been cut after the Commonwealth Games,” a senior official said, asking the ministry to seek help from the private sector.
The Planning Commission has been asked to frame a comprehensive model concession agreement for handing over stadiums to private players. The government would, however, reserve the primary right of usage. This means that while the stadiums would be reserved for sporting activities on specified days, private events such as international conferences, concerts and fairs would be held on others.
“The bidding process for the stadiums will be held in an open and transparent manner,” the functionary said, adding that the winner would have to deposit a specific amount with the government as security.