Royal Challengers v Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2014, Bangalore May 5, 2014

Chinnaswamy Stadium's ticket mystery

Known for its packed houses during IPL games, the M Chinnaswamy Stadium had plenty of empty seats during the first home game against Sunrisers Hyderabad, and the steep price of tickets did not help

The Indian Premier League rolled into Bangalore on Sunday, with a crucial night game between the home side and Sunrisers Hyderabad at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, which is known for its packed house during IPL games. Tickets generally sell out a few days in advance, so when a small group of fans turned up at the official ticket window outside the ground on the morning of the match, it was perhaps in blind hope. They would have been pleasantly surprised by the short line at the ticket counter outside Gate 8.

The officials in charge of selling tickets informed fans that the cheapest seats available for sale were worth Rs. 1650, and that all the cheaper options had been sold out. Most of the fans were clearly reluctant to spend so much for an evening's worth of entertainment - after all, movie tickets on average cost around Rs. 300 in Bangalore.

It later emerged that the officials at the counter weren't being entirely truthful. There was at least one unsold booklet of tickets costing Rs. 825, which the official (Lokesh, according to the badge he wore) was trying to conceal from the general public, and surreptitiously sell to some 'friend' who had jumped the line. When Lokesh was pointedly questioned about this preferential treatment, he sheepishly offered the excuse: "These tickets are almost sold out." He also tried to make the problem go away by offering to sell the cheaper tickets to the people at the head of the line, but that move backfired. Soon, the people who had been unwilling to shell out Rs. 1650 for a ticket, were back in the line with renewed interest in the cheaper alternative. Lokesh was forced to sell them against his wishes, but did not seem too concerned at the threat that his behavior would be reported to the KSCA officials. Despite his best efforts, this correspondent was not allowed to enter the KSCA offices to lodge a complaint.

Over the years, the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore has gained a reputation for its vociferous and loyal home crowd. Few IPL venues have managed to match the atmosphere inside the Chinnaswamy Stadium in past seasons, thanks to the combination of a star-studded team, and a high-scoring pitch in a relatively small, centrally-located ground. So when you entered the stadium on Sunday evening, you expected more of the same.

As it transpired, the crowds inside the stadium fell well short of the numbers expected in Bangalore. While some stands were packed to the gills - including the C Upper stand with its Rs. 825 ticket - the overall turn-out could not have exceeded 70%. Entire rows of seats in the stands with straight views - the North Stand and the pavilion terraces - remained unoccupied through the game, while the lower tier of the massive D Stand that offers a square view, was also sparsely populated. The poor sale of expensive tickets explained the behaviour of the officials at the ticket counter earlier in the day, but didn't justify it.

The average attendance is perhaps one of the many symptoms of the lukewarm interest around the IPL this year. Ground collections are a significant revenue stream for IPL franchises, unlike cricket boards who don't mind poor turn-outs as long as they have television eyeballs. Smart pricing seemed to click during the first leg of the IPL in the UAE, where some of the 20 games were sold out, and the general turn-out was impressive. Perhaps the organisers could learn a lesson from the UAE experience, and price their tickets more pragmatically.

And while they are at it, they may want to stop using unscrupulous means to up-sell their tickets. Even the most loyal fans wouldn't appreciate being taken for a ride.

Nitin Sundar is a social media manager at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sumanth on May 6, 2014, 14:52 GMT

    I can't say how glad I am that CRICINFO brought this up and posted it on their website. I went to the game buying the 1750 ticket (Gate 8). I must logged in 100 times atleast onto their website to check for 825 ticket but they never seemed to opened it. And like so many others had pointed out in their posts...seats were vacant all over the stadium. And the pavilion seats on either end...lets not even go there.

  • Dummy4 on May 6, 2014, 7:38 GMT

    One stand where I love to watch the game from in Chinnaswamy is the N stand. I have watched many test matches from there for ticket priced max 450 INR. It makes me sad that very stand costs a whooping 3300 for a 3 hr game. Noticed a few empty chairs of that stand in RCB-SRH game on TV.

  • Arvind on May 5, 2014, 18:55 GMT

    I stood in line for almost 2 hours till 11AM this morning to buy tickets for the KXIP game. The counter, which was supposed to open at 9 AM opened only by 10AM. Couldn't wait any longer so went to office. And they were selling only 1 ticket per head, meaning if you wished to take your parents to the game, you need to make them come and stand in the queue for min 3-4 hours! The online quota, if it existed at all, shows that its sold out. Shows how pathetic these guys have become. Am pretty sure these practices will make RCB's fan base erode further...

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2014, 18:36 GMT

    Well the same goes with mumbai, they have increased the ticket price, and now the minimum ticket costs rupees 1750 that too for a east/West Stand which doesnt give a great view..followed by 2250, 3500, 7700!!

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2014, 16:22 GMT

    There is another angle to this reduced attendance. What is there Bangalorean about this year's RCB team? Except of course in the name and perhaps its high flying owner. Look at this Karntaka players are distinguishing themselves in other teams - Karun (RR), Rahul (SRH), Manish Pandey, Uthappa and Vinay Kumar (KKR) and Gautham (MI) and the Bangalore cricket lover has little to cheer about on that front about this RCB. Did we not hear some time ago that one of the basic concepts of the IPL franchisees is to promote local talent?

  • Tejas on May 5, 2014, 14:39 GMT

    The ticket prices are priced to the roof for these IPL games and it isnt worth anymore for regular goers. I am a Bangalorean and went to the first match of my life in 1998(wc-qf) and then believe it or not haven't missed one game at the Chinnaswamy. All tests and one days, WC practice matches, lone t20 each one of them. But these money mongers IPL guys dont care these, they just want money. A stand which I occupied in the high octane match b/w Ind and Eng during the 2011 WC now costs 150 percent extra for a game which is half the duration . Pathetic and sad.

  • Vikram on May 5, 2014, 12:56 GMT

    I have lived in Bangalore all my life... I always found it difficult to get the tickets for Square Stands or the Cross-pavillion stands which are cheaper. They are marked as sold out... but on the match day, these stands are near EMPTY. I mean, are we to believe that people "bought" tickets and didn't turn up for the match in hoards! Give me a break! Pathetic officials.

  • Pratyush on May 5, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    Tried to get tickets for the match against KXIP and the cheapest one online is around 8000 bucks! Yes, 8K. And there is no way I am waiting in a line to get a ticket at Chinnaswamy after what happened to us in the world cup match Vs. England ticket fiasco. No chance of that happening.

  • Raj on May 5, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    Just try to watch any match frm a stand where there are no chairs.I think they always sell more tickets then the number of ppl who can sit there properly.Becoz i hav been to tat G stand in Chinnaswamy and there are just way too many ppl in tat stand then there should be.If u just go to drink water u will never get a place to sit wen u come back.Even then ppl come and watch match there.These are the ppl who make the Cricket the game it is and not the ppl who run it.I think its high time some thing is done abt the ppl who come to any cricket stadium not just Chinnaswamy becoz ppl running the GAME just don't care abt them right now.

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    Last year I was able to book the C Lower stand online but this time only the C upper was offered. Few of my friends took C Lower at 1500 which now explains what might have happened at Chinnaswamy. Bangalore chennai match tickets never seems to have been released to the online buyers. Can any interrogation be conducted?

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