The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has decided to slash ticket prices for the third Test between India and West Indies to try and draw larger crowds to the Wankhede Stadium. The decision comes after the low attendances during the recent India-England ODI series - 13,000 tickets were sold at the Wankhede Stadium, which seats 33,000.
Daily tickets for the Test will be priced as low as Rs 50 and season tickets for vantage viewing points like the premium Vithal Divecha Pavilion will be on offer for Rs 600. An ODI ticket for the same stand was priced at Rs 5000 (a comparison with previous Test ticket rates is difficult because the last match played at the Wankhede was five years ago). A season ticket in the North Stand will cost Rs 500; a ticket for the ODI against England was priced at Rs 3000. The reduction is even greater for the Sunil Gavaskar Stand (Rs 4000 to Rs 500).
"We are hoping that people take advantage of the season ticket because those are priced reasonably. If somebody buys a season ticket for Rs 500, he need not wait in the queue for a daily ticket that costs Rs 100," Ratnakar Shetty, one of the MCA vice-presidents and also the BCCI's chief administrative officer, said.
Shetty denied, however, that the price cuts were a direct consequence of the low turnout in the ODI series. "There is no relation between pricing and the abysmal turnout during the recent India-England one-day series," Shetty said. "In Kolkata a Rs 25,000 ticket was being sold at Rs 500, but still there were no takers. The cost was not a reason for low attendance. There were other reasons: both countries were playing back-to-back series and it was also the holiday season."
Shetty said it was almost impossible for any Indian ground to witness a full house any more, especially for a Test. "But you have to make sure you get as large a crowd as possible through smart ticket pricing. And that is actually not so easy.
"Even in the last Test match in Mumbai, at the Brabourne Stadium (between India and Sri Lanka in 2009), the tickets were moderately priced. And about 5000 free tickets were given to school and college students for the Test match. Given that system had worked well, the MCA managing committee decided to carry that forward."
Similar discounts offered to fans by the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) for the ongoing Test at Feroz Shah Kotla have been undermined by a complicated sales system. The cheapest daily ticket is priced at Rs 100 while a five-day ticket for the best seat in the ground, in the South Club House at the ITC End, costs Rs 4000. On the first day, though, the ticket office at the Kotla was closed without explanation and only 11,000 fans were in a stadium that has a capacity of about 45,000.
Things appeared more confusing at the Kotla on Monday, the second day, with chaotic scenes at the point of sale - the branch of a nationalised bank located on a nearby road. Still, an estimated 14,000 fans turned up.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo