Understanding the ticketing conundrum

On Sunday morning, I saw a shocking picture of a man in khakhi swingling his baton to threaten — and not to hit, I hope — a gaggle of hapless but hopeful cricket fans queuing up for ICC Cricket World Cup tickets in Bangalore.

I also read a statement by the International Cricket Council CEO Haroon Lorgat that the frantic rush for the tickets was an indication of the popularity of the 50-over format and the passion fans, especially in India, have for the game.

And that made me smile.

For, a couple of days earlier, I was at the Ferozshah Kotla ground in Delhi where less than 10000 people watched South Africa beat the West Indies by seven wickets.  Perhaps Lorgat has’t notice that the crowds have not been flocking for non-India games.

Needless to say, as we have seen in Bangalore, the demand for tickets far exceeds the seating capacity in contests that feature Indian teams. And in these games, the tickets available for sale to the general public comes down basically because the event owners and host associations are committed to providing extra tickets to their stakeholders I find it curious that ICC now says it will make available to the host associations ‘unused leased tickets’.

I also find it curious that ICC is actually making available such tickets earmarked for sponsors, commercial partners, BCCI associations and guests for an India game. Does it mean that the offtake of such tickets by these stakeholders for an India game is poor?

That is why my eyebrows have stayed raised ever since I heard Karnataka State Cricket Association Secretary Javagal Srinath say: “Unused leased tickets are coming to us in batches of 50-100 and in some cases 200-250 from the ICC. These will be sold online and not through counters at the same price they were bought earlier.”

In a non-India game, should the hosts print as many tickets as there are seats in the stadium and risk spending more than they are likely to recover from the sale of tickets? Take, for example, a stadium that can seat 50,000 people. If the cost of printing a ticket (and including a barcode unique to each ticket) is Rs 10, then an association will incur Rs 5 lakh towards the cost of printing alone.

It is a good guess that 35 per cent of these tickets are non-revenue tickets;. Of the remaining tickets (numbering 32,500), let us assume that there are 2000 pay up Rs 200 each, the association picks up Rs 4 lakh. And ends up with a loss of Rs 1 lakh. So, it will be tempted not to print the whole lot of 50,000 tickets to minimise its losses from such games. And the “Sold out” boards are hung even if there are many empty seats in the stadium.

About Rajaraman 453 Articles
Born on March 10, 1961 in Hyderabad, I wanted to be an electronics engineer but my focus on cricket and basketball at school and junior college meant that I missed qualifying from the entrance examination. I led the School and Junior College basketball teams. I then decided he would be sports a journalist like my father, Mr N Ganesan. While I graduated in commerce from the Badruka College of Arts and Commerce, I also spent more time in sports, representing Andhra Pradesh in the National Basketball Championship in 1980 and Osmania University in 1981-82. I joined the 1981-82 batch of Osmania Univeristy's Bachelor in Communication and Journalism. I missed the gold medal by 0.6 per cent and was pursuing the Masters' degree when The Hindu offered me a job as Sub-Editor in Madras. I took up The Hindu assignment on March 17, 1983. Though my job entailed editing functions only, I got to cover the annual Sholavaram motor racing grands prix in 1985 and 1986 and the Himalayan Rally in 1985 when my photographs also found expression in The Sportstar. I left The Hindu in November 1986 to join Press Trust of India as Sports Reporter in Hyderabad. I was called to New Delhi to report on the World Table Tennis Championship in March 1987. I covered a variety of events, including the SAF Games in Calcutta in 1987 and Islamabad in 1989. I ventured to Delhi in July 1992 when I joined The Pioneer as a Senior Reporter/Sub-Editor (Sports). My cricket writing skills came to the fore when I was deputed to write on India's tour of Sri Lanka in July-August 1993. I was rewarded with a promotion as Deputy Sports Editor in 1995. The departure of the Sports Editor in January 1996 saw me hold charge. A good performance during the 1996 World Cup cricket and the Olympic Games in Atlanta - when The Pioneer brought out a four-page supplement every day saw me being confirmed as Sports Editor in August 1996. The Hindustan Times, Delhi's largest newspaper, appointed me as Associate Editor (Sports) in January 1997. I conceived and launched a weekly colour supplement, Sport during the World Cup football finals in 1998. I covered the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and the 1999 World Cup cricket in England. I left the Hindustan Times on February 23, 2000 to take up position as Editor, www.cricketnext.com on February 26 and can claim with pride that I played no mean role in building a good site that is rated among the best cricket news sites. Besides, a number of TV channels – NDTV, Star News, Doordarshan, CNBC, Zee News – and radio stations like BBC, SABC and ABC have invite me to in-studio discussions on cricket. In 2001, I authored a book, Match-fixing: The Enemy Within (Har Anand Publications). I joined www.espnstar.com as Senior Editor in June 2001 and worked for two years, helping it transform from a corporate website to a respected sports site and playing a role in driving the hugely popular online fantasy cricket game, Super Selector. I left the website to pursue life as a freelance writer and consultant, editing the Afro-Asian Games Observer in Hyderabad in October-November 2003 and helping the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Communication Committee. I joined the respected weekly magazine Outlook as Senior Special Correspondent in April 2005 and worked there till September 2007, with a story highlighting Sunil Gavaskar's minimal contribution to Indian cricket after his retirement being one of the best in my career. For a year, till Sept 30, 2008, I was Sports Editor, Samay, Sahara India's National news channel. I live in New Delhi with my wife Sudha and daughter Priya and after a short stint with www.iplt20.com and www.t20.com, I am now consultant with the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (28° 40' 0 N, 77° 13' 0 E) lending my shoulder to the wheel that will make India a hugely popular sports destination.