Don’t just watch cricket, savour it — that’s the Indian Premier League’s pitch this season. In its third edition, the T20 tournament, which has been on a deal-making spree this year, has added luxury to cricket and glamour, attempting to establish a new, lucrative revenue stream: hospitality.
The IPL, which begins at the D Y Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai tomorrow, has launched an ambitious hospitality initiative called Club Lounge. Reported to be the brainchild of Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel’s daughter Poorna Patel, the scheme offers well-to-do fans five-star hotel stays, rides in chauffeur-driven luxury sedans, and an opportunity to rub shoulders with star cricketers and the who’s who of the glamour world during and after the 60 IPL matches to be played over the next one-and-a-half months.
The offer comes at a hefty price — patrons will have to cough up between Rs 50,000 (for a single match) and Rs 22 lakh (for the full package of 60 games to be played at venues across the country). The opening ceremony, the semi-finals and the final are being sold separately for Rs 1,42,000 per person. Also on offer are “My team” packages, for fans who want to watch the matches of their favourite team only.
A Club Lounge executive claimed that tickets to the opening ceremony were already sold out. The lounges, she said, would have around 150 plush seats, and no complimentary passes were being given to franchisees or any other patron. “The passes have to be bought,” she said.
IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi and CEO Sundar Raman did not respond to phonecalls and text messages for this report.
Each package includes flight tickets, transportation, stay in a five-star hotel, free food and beverages, and free entry to daily post-match parties which, along with the cricket stars, will have celebrities from Bollywood and a well known ‘face of the evening’. There will also be fashion shows by major designers.
Passes for just the post-match events are available at Rs 10,000 per evening. The ordinary tickets to the matches have been priced between Rs 500 and Rs 10,000 per person.
Poorna Patel, who is employed with IPL, refused to divulge much, except for saying: “Hospitality is an established stream for big sporting events such as Formula 1. We are trying to explore the potential here.”
The IPL earned revenues of Rs 774 crore and Rs 661 crore in 2009 and 2008 respectively. Last year, broadcast revenues and sponsorships contributed Rs 355 crore and Rs 125 crore respectively. The IPL management expects to earn a lot more this year, thanks to the new deals it has signed.