Mumbai/ New Delhi: From Bollywood actor Preity Zinta to liquor and aviation baron Vijay Mallya to industrialist Mohit Burman, a smattering of India’s household names turned out on Thursday at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium with dreams of succeeding in a new business—cricket.
By 4pm, eight entrepreneurs and business houses bid for and came to own a cricket team in the Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL): Zinta (along with fiancé Ness Wadia, Burman and Apeejay group’s Karan Paul), Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd, Mallya’s UB Group, actors Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla, construction firm GMR Infrastructure Ltd, London-based cricket reality show producer Manoj Badale, India Cements Ltd, and media house Deccan Chronicle.
And some paid record prices to get what they wanted. While the league’s promoters, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), had set a reserve price of $50 million (Rs197 crore) per team, Ambani paid $111.9 million, Mallya $111.6 million, and Deccan Chronicle $107.1 million.
The IPL teams will be named after eight cities from the 12 listed by BCCI. Ambani bid and won the right to own the Mumbai team, Mallya got Bangalore, Zinta-Wadia and partners won Mohali, Kolkata went to Khan and Chawla, Delhi to GMR, Chennai to India Cements, Hyderabad to Deccan Chronicle and Jaipur to Bad-ale, whose EM Management Pvt. Ltd produces the television reality show Cricket Star.
IPL chairman and league commissioner Lalit Modi, who’s also the BCCI vice-chairman in charge of marketing, claimed all 12 cities had found multiple bidders, and even those that lost out—Cuttack, Ahmedabad, Gwalior and Kanpur—had attracted bids much above BCCI’s base price. Apart from the top three most expensive cities, Chennai went for $91 million, Delhi for $84 million, Mohali for $76 million, Kolkata for $75.09 million and Jaipur for $67 million.
BCCI raised $1.75 billion through the sale of the teams, which will comprise top cricketing stars from across the world. And it will rake in more over the next five years, getting a percentage of television revenues coming to team owners, as well as sponsorship sales. “We are aiming at higher levels (of revenues),” Modi said. “What we have put together has fructified, and IPL is here to stay for a long period.”
More than 40 firms had bought the bid documents, and perhaps the most notable loser among those who bid is Videocon Industries Ltd; company chairman Venugopal Dhoot was keen on the Mumbai and Kolkata teams.
After the bid documents were opened at 2pm at BCCI headquarters, actor Zinta walked in with industrialist-fiancé Wadia of Bombay Dyeing—both clad in black—having driven to the stadium shortly after 2pm in a black Lexus. Burman followed in a silver Rolls Royce, and 45 minutes later, Mallya in a red Bentley. An empty Mercedes, also red, followed in case the Bentley’s engine died.
“We are not representing any Wadia company but Priety Zinta,” Wadia said as he walked off with his fiancee.