It will be a full house at the majestic Major Dhyanchand National Stadium when Indian hockey team takes on Pakistan under floodlights on the first day of the Hero Honda World Cup on Sunday. Or, so the organisers want us to believe by showing the sold-out sign for ticket-seekers.
The renovated stadium can pack 16,200 people and the organisers insist that all the 15,000 tickets put on sale have been bought in no time. The rest of the seats will go to the International Hockey Federation (FIH) members and guests, not to mention the VIPs in the Capital. Nobody wants to miss the opportunity of watching a truly enthralling hockey.
"There are no tickets now for the first day, even the online booking is closed. Maybe a few tickets of lowest denomination may be available but that, too, will vanish by this evening. This encouraging start augurs well for the sale of tickets for the remaining days. We are very happy with the response of the fans," an excited Hockey India (HI) secretary general Narendra Batra said.
"Sale of tickets for other India matches have also picked up. India's progress in the tournament will encourage the sale of tickets for non-India matches."
There were fears that stringent security measures would keep the fans away from the venue, but things are slowly improving and this is reflected in ticket sales.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the organising committee have been able to convince the security agencies that their guests should be part of the pavilion enclosure along with the VVIPs. The police had earlier refused to let anyone else than the VVIPs into the pavilion bloc.
Batra said the issue was amicably settled and now the VVIPs will be issued invites and others the FIH-HI guest cards.
"There are around 1000 seats that have been kept aside for invitees and players. Due to security guidelines, now the VIP, VVIPs have been given cards instead of tickets," said Batra.
Batra said the organisers are looking into the request from the diplomatic missions of the participating countries to allow their officials to be part of their teams at the stadium.