New Delhi: World Cup matches that don’t feature the Indian cricket team are not proving to be a big draw yet, prompting organizers to slash ticket prices by as much as half and offer free passes to students to drum up attendance, days before the tournament starts.
Out of 49 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup matches, India is hosting 29 at eight venues. India will play five of its six league matches on home turf while it clashes with co-host Bangladesh in the inaugural match in Mirpur in the neighbouring nation on 19 February.
Ticket sales for matches between weak teams has been poor while those between better-rated outfits are gaining interest, going by the experience of centres such as Delhi, Nagpur and Mohali.
To be sure, it can be too early to gauge spectator interest, given that Indian stadiums tend to fill up at the last moment, especially with cricket matches.
“We’ll have a decent response. You won’t get a full house (and) you can’t get a full house,” said Anil Kumble, former Indian cricketer and currently the president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association, referring to matches that don’t feature India. It would be premature to predict the sale of tickets for Bangalore’s non-India matches, he added.
Officials of Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA), which is hosting a match between Australia and New Zealand on 25 February at Nagpur, said only 5% of the tickets had been sold even after halving prices. Tickets now cost Rs 150-2,000. That compares with a price range of Rs 300-4,000 for popular matches.
VCA has sold just 2% of tickets for the game between Zimbabwe and Canada being held on 28 February, after the counters opened last week. “The response for non-India matches is very poor,” said Sudhir Dabir, VCA president.
Organisers have told host cities to admit college and school students free and make tickets cheaper for the non-India matches. Gate receipts form one of two key revenue streams for host cities, the other being a hosting fee from ICC.
But the tournament’s timing clashes with school examinations in Maharashtra, where Nagpur is located.
Mohali, which is staging South Africa-Netherlands and West Indies-Ireland matches, is planning to distribute 3,000 tickets free for each match to children from rural areas.
The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), which will start selling tickets later this week, is not expecting much response to two of the four matches to be played at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in the capital. These are the Kenya-Canada and West Indies-Netherlands ties, said a DDCA official, who didn’t want to be named. Aside from these two, Kotla will hold a West Indies-South Africa match later this month and one between India and the Netherlands later.
The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), which will host the first match in India on Sunday between New Zealand and Kenya at Chennai, has reduced ticket prices by 50%. The tickets now range from Rs 250 to Rs 10,000, compared with prices of Rs 500-20,000 for high-profile ties.
The price cuts have worked, with 60-70% of tickets having been sold, said K.S. Viswanathan, TNCA secretary.
Online ticket sales are healthy, according to KyaZoonga.com, the official tournament ticket vendor for Internet sales. While online tickets for India matches were sold out three months ago, demand for matches between other good teams is growing, said Neetu Bhatia, chief executive of KyaZoonga.com.