Indians companies are getting so good at snapping up slices of British history, I didn’t exactly faint with shock on opening an email from Warwickshire seeking a naming rights partner for the historic Edgbaston cricket ground in Birmingham.
“With India, the world’s number 1 team in cricket only months away from touring England, the good news prior to the tour is that the new £32million Edgbaston ground development will be ready in time for the International 3rd npower Test Match which starts on Wednesday 10th August 2011,” said the mail from Warwickshire County Cricket Club. “The opportunities are truly exciting,” James McLaughlin, commercial director for the club, tells me. Edgbaston is Warwickshire’s home ground and the partner company will have its name emblazoned on it.
Warwickshire have a set a price of £300,000-350,000 a year for a minimum period of five years, but will be careful about the company they choose, McLaughin said. “We work a lot with the Asian community in the region, and this is a community- and family-based venue, involved in developing grassroots cricket. We want a face-to-face conversation with someone who can tell us ‘this is the legacy we want to provide’.”
Going by history, big-ticket numbers would do well to jump in. Befitting of an international venue dating back to 1886, Edgbaston’s naming partner for the hospitality section, for instance, is none other than mighty Jaguar, the Birmingham-based car company that is owned by Tata Motors. “We would like to know how an Indian company would value it – we’ll find the right partner when we sit down and talk,” said McLaughlin.
A million cars a year pass by the road outside the ground. And the new stand comes with a large conference and banqueting suite for 700 guests that could host lavish Indian weddings.
By the way, Edgbaston is considered England’s most hostile ground for visiting teams. Former England captain Alec Stewart once said, “On a world level I would put it up there with Eden Gardens in Calcutta… It inspires a team.” With cricket-loving Kolkatans having been denied a World Cup fixture, perhaps a Bengali company might consider Edgbaston?