Each team of the proposed Indian Premier League (IPL), planned by cricket authorities to increase interest in domestic Twenty20 matches, will cost at least $50 million (Rs198 crore).

The much-awaited franchise tender document went on sale—it costs Rs4 lakh—on Monday from the Mumbai headquarters of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

IPL chairman and league commissioner Lalit Modi confirmed the base price in a SMS message to Mint on Monday night. Other details, such as any terms for owning teams, weren’t immediately available.

In a Sunday night email to companies that was seen by Mint, Modi, who is a BCCI vice-president spearheading the board’s marketing initiatives, wrote: “The Franchisee tender document will be available from the BCCI effective Mon(day) the 24th. Please contact Dalpat (Vadolikar) or Ratnakar Shetty for the same post 12 noon on the 24th if you are interested."

BCCI officials and those affiliated with IPL kept a low profile. Modi declined to speak saying he was in a meeting, though he confirmed the reserve price later in the evening. Shetty, the BCCI chief administrative officer, and BCCI office superintendent Vadolikar, mentioned in Modi’s mail, said they were unaware of the reserve price of a team and other details.

Balu Nayar, managing director of the Indian operations of International Management Group (IMG), the sports management firm that designed the IPL format, did not respond to repeated calls or text messages.

Exciting format: BCCI chairman Sharad Pawar (right) with BCCI selection committee chairman Dilip Vengsarkar. (PTI)

Future Group chief executive Kishore Biyani, for one, said he was unaware of the development as he is out of India. A week ago, Biyani told Mint that his group, which runs Pantaloons Retail (India) Pvt. Ltd as its flagship, would want to have some sort of partnership with IPL.

Tushar Chhabra, head of advisory services at financial consultants Elite Wealth Management, said $50 million for a 10-year ownership of an IPL cricket team appeared to be a “good deal".

He based his assessment on the rates BCCI charged from sponsors of Indian cricket for four-year deals: $615 million from Nimbus Communications Ltd for broadcasting rights to all international matches played in India apart from domestic leagues, Rs313.8 crore from Sahara Group for team sponsorship, and Rs196.9 crore from Nike India for apparel sponsorship.

Taking various factors into calculation—including pegging the price of an IPL team at a quarter of the Indian team’s worth—Chhabra said each team should cost around Rs23 crore a year for four years, compared with the Rs200 crore per year for a decade that BCCI has set.

By Chhabra’s calculations, the annual expenditure, including players’ fees, travel and accommodation of the team and opportunity cost wo-rks out to Rs70 crore, less than the projected Rs55-60 crore annual income from the team. Still, he said, owning a team was a good bet, especially for a company, because of potential mileage a brand could extract from such ownership.

In a 13 December letter, Modi announced the launch of the 75-page IPL franchise prospectus, which began: “Gentleman, The Indian Premier League, which begins in April 2008, is the most exciting sports and entertainment venture ever undertaken in India."

The prospectus lays out that IPL will have eight teams revolving around eight cities. Players also are free to be traded or “sold". Team owners are to be decided in a public auction next month.

It has also committed Rs140 crore in cricket-related merchandizing over the next three years, and had picked up ground rights for a one-day series involving India and South Africa in Belfast, Ireland, earlier this year.

A spokesperson at Reliance Communications Ltd, a company that has identified cricket as a platform for growth of its telephony business, said the person in charge of cricket initiatives was on vacation.

Calls made to the Sahara India group, which sponsors the Indian team, were greeted with a recording that the phone had been switched off.

Last week’s prospectus promised bidders 80% of television revenues in the first two years of operations, and half from the 11th year of ownership.

Other revenue streams were sponsorships, gate money, ground concessions, premium seating and hospitality.

The $3 million prize money IPL has drawn the cream of the international cricketing fraternity—with the exception of former West Indian Brian Lara who chose the rebelIndian Cricket League, organized by Zee TV.

Australian spin legend Shane Warne is the highest paid player, having been promised $400,000 per year by IPL.