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Private grounds fuel love of cricket in Gurgaon

Dedicated cricket grounds in Ullahwas, Kadarpur, Badshahpur, Bairampur, Wazirabad, Baliyawas, Palam Vihar and Sector 23 are catering to the corporate clientele

gurgaon Updated: Mar 10, 2018 22:13 IST
Abhishek Behl
Abhishek Behl
Hindustan Times
Sports Maidan, a corporate venture in Sector 58, has a cricket ground (above), a football ground, tennis courts, and a facility for cage football. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

With Gurgaon’s real estate prices skyrocketing during the boom years, neither the developers nor the government gave much thought to where the city’s burgeoning population will find the space for sports.

More so, the city’s corporate executives, who remain ensconced in tall glass buildings throughout the week and on weekends, make a beeline to their new colonies to give into their love of cricket.

Gurgaon has enough gyms and private clubs but when it comes to a dedicated piece of real estate to set up a playground, there was none.

That was until the landowners along the Golf Course Road and Gurgaon-Faridabad Road spotted the great opportunity. Eyeing the corporate clientele, they started creating private cricket grounds. As a result, dedicated cricket grounds have come up in Ullahwas, Kadarpur, Badshahpur, Bairampur, Wazirabad, Baliyawas, Palam Vihar, Sector 23 and one in the midst of the Maruti car yard on Carterpuri Road in old Gurgaon.

As per a rough estimate, there are around 12 to 15 well-equipped cricket grounds in the city — the number could be close to 50 if one includes those with just basic facilities.

These grounds are available at a cost of Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 per team for a match and the grounds come with a well-prepared pitch, a green outfield and washrooms for players, a majority of whom are corporates from Gurgaon’s manufacturing and IT hubs.

A single such ground hosts three matches a day and five if there are floodlights. The rate for cricket under the lights is about Rs 6,000 to Rs 8,000 per match for each team.

Deepak Dahiya, a businessman, who manages a cricket team and also ran a cricket ground earlier, said it takes around Rs 6 lakh to Rs 7 lakh to convert a four-acre plot into a cricket ground.

“There is a great demand for cricket grounds and other sports, particularly on weekends, as corporates have taken to sports in a big way. Some of these companies have 10 to 12 teams as everyone wants to play. The idea is more about playing and enjoying the game than winning,” Dahiya said.

It is not just for the money that landowners are promoting the game. The villagers simply love cricket and body building. That prompted them to build grounds, rope in experts to manage the green turf and install floodlights in order to hold T-20 tournaments on the lines of the much popular Indian Premier League.

Also, the land in these villages is not fertile and, owing to a lack of water, only mustard and wheat grow in these fields, thus making farming uneconomical.

In comparison, the cricket greens watered by sprinklers and managed by ground boys are helping them rake in the moolah. Most of the workers and support staff, including the umpires, come from the villages and the whole enterprise is giving rise to employment as well.

Ravinder Rajput, who manages the Shyam Cricket Ground in Ullahwas village since 2014, said a majority of the teams booking their ground has a corporate background. “The teams have money to spend and want good facilities. This prompts owners to invest more in facilities and the local youth end up with jobs and a regular income,” he said.

Another side benefit is that youth from these cash-rich villages spend more time on the ground rather than going to pubs and restaurants.

Pankaj Tomar, a cricketer and real estate dealer, said these areas were urbanised after 2009 and as the rates skyrocketed in sectors 60 to 71, an acre went for as high as Rs 15 crore in some instances.

“It is good that these villagers have taken to cricket, body-building and promoting sports as these channelise their energy in the right direction. Sports lovers of the city have also greatly benefited as government facilities are negligible,” he said.

The success of farmers has motivated even corporates and realtors to offer sports facilities they created in their residential hubs to cricket-crazed residents, who are ready to spend good money for a good experience.

Puru Singh, along with his two partners, carved out the Sports Maidan, a corporate venture in Sector 58, which has a cricket ground, a football ground, tennis courts, and a facility for cage football.

“This space is built for sports mixed with entertainment and has club-like facilities for players. The rates are not high and we have high-quality floodlights, video recording facility and provisions to provide live commentary,” Singh, who also organises cricket tournaments, said.

Sports Maidan also has a restaurant and it organises cricket-themed parties for children, apart from a training school for children.

Sports lovers too are happy as they only have to shell out around Rs 1,000 per weekend for a two-match stint. “The company does not pay for these matches. We chip in Rs 500 each for ground fee and spend a bit more on food, but the experience is worth it,” Manish Jain, a corporate executive, who plays regularly at a ground in Bijwasan, said.

Most players say playing cricket under the sun in winters and under the floodlights during the summer help them de-stress and also breaks the monotony of being cooped up at work. “It helps in team building, forming bonds and making friends, which often lead to more parties,” Nand Sharma, a senior executive, said.

First Published: Mar 10, 2018 22:13 IST