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No spamming this SMS

There has been much talk of the unprecedented security at Jaipur for the third one-dayer - one cop for every nine spectators - between India and Sri Lanka, but equally importantly this match will produce unrivalled profits for the Rajasthan Cricket Association. Already, advertising revenue has reached Rupees 240 million a number never achieved in any venue in the country.

What a difference a few years, and the odd regime change, makes. Six years ago, when Jaipur last hosted an international, they booked a loss. As unbelievable as it may sound, the venue actually declared a loss for staging an India-Pakistan one-day international in 1999. There's no bigger game in the country, no fatter cash cow than a limited overs encounter against the old enemy, and yet a loss?

It is no secret that for decades the Rungta family, which ruled Rajasthan cricket, had little interest in furthering cricketing matters unless it suited their purposes. For example, although Jaipur is still a Test venue according to the constitution of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, they have not demanded or been allotted a Test in recent memory. All that - if you go by what Lalit Modi, the new chief, says - is going to change.

The Sawai Man Singh Stadium has undergone such a sea change in the last three years - all good, apart from the disappointing tendency of the local association to refer to this ground with an evocative name by the acronym SMS stadium - that you have to take Modi's claims seriously. A known rival of Jagmohan Dalmiya, Modi is unafraid to take on the powers that be at the BCCI, and has the wherewithal to come up trumps.

At the end of the day, nothing succeeds in Indian cricket like financial success. To ensure this, Modi has taken some hard decisions. The manner in which he has sold advertising, for starters, is revealing. Every inch of free space at the ground has been thoughtfully utilised, while taking care to ensure that the signage is not in-your-face or obtrusive. At each level - starting from the ground to the very top of the pavilion building, there are sponsors picking up the tab. At most grounds the runners on the boundary ropes sell for about Rupees 700,000. Here, Modi has managed to get Rupees 1.5 million.

Not only has he done things better, he has done them differently. Normally the job of selling space is outsourced to an agency, cutting profits by anything upward of a 15% commission. Here, the Rajasthan Cricket Association have taken the task upon themselves. But unlike other grounds, it is not merely advertising that rakes in the moolah here.

While it is par for the course that between 50% and 80% of seats at most grounds are given away as freebies, here the accent is on sales. In fact sales have been so brisk and lucrative that the income tax authorities have asked the association to furnish a list of buyers for the highest value seats. And, get this, the corporate boxes, numbering about 60 seats in all, have been sold at a price of Rupees 125,000 per seat. No, that's not for a box, that's the price for putting one bum on a seat. At a little over US$2800, that is more than you would be expected to pay at any sporting event anywhere in the world. While they throw in a multi-course lunch, airconditioned rooms, and a superb view, this price-tag won't fetch you a drink - no alcohol is served at the ground - or an interaction with the players, which are the usual perks for shelling out large sums for luxury seats.

To make money you need to spend money, and Modi the businessman has shown he is not averse to doing that. The RCA says it spent Rs 7.5 million on refurbishing the ground before this match. They have erected excellent covering for the stands, have redone the pavilion to make it as plush as any you might find in the country and the cable connections at the ground has been redone to give television companies the best infrastructure for live telecasting.

Small venues in India are notorious for doing nothing to improve conditions at their grounds. Modi, who is also vice-president of the Punjab Cricket Association, seems to have made a departure from that scenario. Perhaps the greatest compliment he is likely to receive, came when Inderjit Singh Bindra, the man responsible for creating and running the best venue in the country, Mohali, said, "We must all learn from this association, and the way they have gone about organising this game."