The clamour for passes has always been a bane on the smooth running of any major event

Every time a cricket extravaganza takes place at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, it becomes a challenge for the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) to please all.

It needs to take care of the VIP pass quota while leaving enough seats for the public. The ongoing fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is no exception.

Tightrope walk

In a bid to walk the tightrope, KSCA has gotten into an ugly tangle with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on the issue of free VIP passes to city councillors.

The BBMP asked for 450 VIP passes and KSCA offered only 250.

Angered, Deputy Mayor S. Harish returned the freebies, claiming the councillors deserved more “respect”. He warned that KSCA, which has been ignoring many civic rules, had better give in to their demands.

The backlash

BBMP and the Public Works Department lost no time in digging up old records and alleged that KSCA was paying a paltry sum as annual lease fees, a fraction of the current market value, as the stadium stands on corporation land in the heart of the city.

The civic body said that KSCA, contravening the 99 year lease agreement, had let out a portion of the stadium to the Royal Challengers Bangalore team for training purposes, for a hefty monthly rental.

It accused the KSCA of building a club house, a restaurant and a swimming pool, in violation of ‘rules'.

BBMP took action against KSCA's garbage removal system for the stadium on the grounds that they were not dumping the garbage in the “designated” areas.

It is intriguing that for the last four seasons, these issues never cropped up and the BBMP woke up to its responsibilities only when it was denied its “rightful” freebies.

Freebie culture

The unceasing clamour for passes, especially from those who wield some sort of power, has always been a bane on the smooth running of any major event.

Culturally, in the west, passes are looked down upon. In county matches in England for example, even the media buys tickets to watch and cover the sport.

But in India, passes are almost a time-honoured tradition and no cricket administration can wish it away. Anil Kumble and Javgal Srinath should have donned their hats as chief administrators of the KSCA, rather than as just great players of the game, and shown better foresight in dealing practically with the issue.

Time to thrash it out

Cricket columnist and writer Joseph Hoover, who has been involved with Indian and State cricket observed, “The issue of passes has been there from the early days of KSCA. It is not right on anyone's part to change the status quo overnight and it's time both sides sat down and thrashed out the issue as it is the game that is finally affected.”

For many purists, IPL itself is a tamasha and such a side show can only make it a bigger tamasha.


Match PointJanuary 13, 2011

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