Mumbai: Vivek Venugopal, co-owner of Rendezvous Sports World Ltd, which led the consortium that won the Kochi franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL), speaks in an interview about plans to promote cricket in Kerala, and how it hopes to raise the $333.33 million (around Rs1,520 crore) it bid for the team. Edited excerpts:
Why did you choose to bid for an IPL team?
One, of course, is passion for the sport. But I don’t think we’ve done anything that didn’t make commercial sense. It’s just a sweet spot where our commercial interest comes together with our passion for the sport. Both made sense. Rendezvous Sport World is the main consortium partner, there is Anchor Earth, Film Wave and Parinee Developers. We’re just a few members who’ve come together from different parts of the country and made a bid for it.
How do you hope to raise this money?
It’s primarily going to be raised through equity from our core businesses. And, hopefully, we will figure out a few different ways. We are going to have to be more innovative compared to the other franchises given that we have a higher cost structure. But we do have a few novel concepts in mind, which will be helpful. We are still working on the financials and contracts with some of those people, those have to be in place before we can announce them.
Kerala is more of a football state than a cricket state. Won’t you have some trouble sourcing talent?
Talent is not an issue. I don’t think it’s limited. There is a vast talent pool out there. There is a lot of club cricket... They tend to hit a glass ceiling as they don’t have other opportunities to showcase themselves. I think this will be a step in the right direction, a change, after which we will see a lot of players playing in IPL and then, hopefully, making it to the national team. I think that is where Dr Tharoor (Shashi Tharoor, minister of state for external affairs) had a vision and that is what he is hoping will happen.
What are the marketing opportunities in the region?
Kerala is a large, untapped market. There is no doubt that other regions have had more success marketing cricket, but that is because no one has really put in effort to market cricket in Kerala. I think this (IPL) will provide the right platform.
Every team has its glamour quotient. Are you going to have any celebrities on board?
We do have a few thoughts in mind. But we’re not building the business model just on the glamour quotient.