The ninth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) which kicked off on April 9, has not enthused the paying public as much as the earlier editions.
The empty seats at major venues for IPL games has depressed both broadcasters and other stakeholders, says a report in Hindustan Times.
One reason for the lacklustre response to the annual extravaganza is probably the World Twenty20. ‘It could be a reason why the BCCI and International Cricket Council (ICC) limited the focus to cricket at the World T20, setting aside glamour for the IPL. Yet it has not been able to save the IPL from the WT20’s impact,’ says HT in its report.
The low capacity Rajkot ground saw the best attendance of the season, for the game between the Rajkot Lions and Kings XI Punjab.
Kings XI’s opener in Mohali, Kolkata Knight Riders’ opener at Eden, the star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bengaluru and Mumbai Indians’ opener at Wankhede all saw below capacity attendance.
At the World T20, India-Pakistan took place at Kolkata, India-Australia at Mohali, India-Bangladesh at Bengaluru and India-West Indies at Mumbai. This is now being touted as a reason for the poor attendance at these venues for the IPL – people have had their fill of Twenty20 cricket on an international stage and are less thrilled about watching what is essentially a club tournament.
Mumbai Cricket Association treasurer, Nitin Dalal, who was in-charge of ticketing at Wankhede during the WT20, told HT: “The response is less so far, even though crowds for Mumbai matches are generally more than other venues. One reason is overdose, we had four WT20 matches and the warm-up matches before that.”
In contrast, even warm-up games at the World T20, such as the India-South Africa game, evoked a tremendous response. More tickets had to be printed for this match, reveals Dalal. Meanwhile, the cost of the tickets was a factor – the most expensive one for this warm up match was Rs 500, while the cheaper tickets for IPL games cost around Rs 1,500.
But Wankhede was packed on Saturday for the game between Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Lions, and this has made Dalal optimistic. He believes that the Mumbai-KKR and Mumbai-RCB games will witness packed houses. Another reason for the full house at the Mumbai-Gujarat match could be that it was held on a weekend.
Moreover, many matches so far at this year’s IPL have been low scoring, which takes away from the entertainment factor of big sixes and boundaries that is so central to the IPL’s success
Unlike the IPL this year, the KFC Big Bash in Australia was a huge success in its last season.This however may give hope to IPL stakeholders for matches to come. MP Pandove, IPL governing council member and chief of the Punjab Cricket Association, which hosts KXIP games, was optimistic. “At most centres, there were World Cup matches before the IPL. People will take time to recharge. After all, it is entertainment. As the tournament progresses, interest will pick up.”