Pune, Chennai set to be IPL 2015 venues
The Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium in Pune and the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai are set to return as venues in the Indian Premier League 2015. The Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai is also likely to host a couple of home games for Rajasthan Royals, even as the franchise will play most of their home matches in Ahmedabad, like last season.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the Kings XI Punjab owners had requested the IPL authorities to add Pune as a venue for their home matches. It is understood that Kings XI decided to move out of Mohali due to lukewarm spectator response at their primary home ground.
The IPL governing council, during its meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday, approved the request and the MCA stadium will host three Kings XI home games. Kings XI have also played a few home games in Dharamsala and Cuttack over the last few years, but considering the capacity of the Pune stadium, the Kings XI owners seem to have opted for hosting matches there.
The Maharashtra Cricket Association welcomed the decision and said the move "would bring back life to the stadium and will definitely be an experience to cherish for the all the cricket fans of Pune".
The stadium in Gahunje was the home venue for Pune Warriors in IPL 2012 and 2013. The stadium also hosted a playoff match in 2012. Following Warriors' expulsion from the IPL in 2013, the stadium has been utilised only for domestic matches.
The governing council also discussed the availability of the MA Chidambaram stadium for this season. The stadium did not host any games last season after three stands were locked down due to legal issues with the Chennai municipal authorities. Due to the standoff, Super Kings played their home games in Ranchi, the home town of team captain MS Dhoni.
According to a BCCI official, neither the franchise nor the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association had informed the board about any issues related to the ground's availability for the season. The official said that as long as the team is fine playing with fewer spectators in the ground, the BCCI and the IPL had no problem in staging the games "with a couple of stands locked".
Royals had no option of hosting home matches in Jaipur as the Rajasthan Cricket Association remains suspended by the BCCI.
The governing council also decided to hold the owners' workshop in Bangalore on February 17, a day after the player auction. The workshop was delayed due to uncertainty over the participation of Super Kings and Royals, the two teams under investigation in the IPL corruption scandal, but preparations are back on track. The fate of the Super Kings and Royals franchises will be known at some point over the next few months, following the Supreme Court's decision last month to set up a three-member committee of retired Supreme Court judges to decide on sanctions against them, as also against Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra.
The IPL governing council also approved two commercial deals that were finalised earlier in the day. The marketing committee awarded the internet and mobile rights of the IPL for the Indian subcontinent to Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Star India Pvt Limited, for a cumulative fee of Rs 302.2 crore [approximately $50 million].
The reserve price for the tender document, floated for three IPL seasons, starting 2015, was Rs 120 crores [approx $20 million]. Times Internet Ltd, who had held the rights until last season and Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd were the other two bidders, quoting Rs 191.8 crores [approx $31.97 million] and Rs 285 crores [approx. $47.5mn] respectively.
The IPL governing council also approved CEAT as a partner for the strategic time-out. The tyre manufacturer was awarded the rights for three seasons for a cumulative fee of Rs 31.5 crore [approx. $5.25 million].
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo