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.