By: Mohit Behl
Dharamshala (May 23): The current season of Indian Premier League (IPL) saw three matches being hosted at Dharamshala, making Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association proud enough to pat its back for this achievement. Though everything appears promising, the picture is not turning out to be rosy for the association as the much awaited event also brought in controversies, politics, and also realization that the small town has to go a long way before it can host mega events.
To begin with, this year the event failed to attract huge crowds in spite of much fanfare. Unlike last time when two matches were played here, this time stands could be seen empty except the general stands, which were sold out because they were the cheapest option available as compared to the other stands. There are many reasons which contributed to the low turnout, but mainly high ticket prices (almost double this time), and last year’s mismanagement of the event (which saw ticket holders outside the stadium & thus discouraged many prospective buyers) seemed to have taken a toll on sale of tickets.
Adding to HPCA’s woes this time was the controversy raised by opposition leaders, mainly by Nagrota Bagwan MLA GS Bali, against hosting the event and high prices of tickets (who by the way last year did not raise any questions on the League for certain obvious business reasons). The COO of Kings XI Punjab Col Arvinder Singh has already made it clear that because of such cheap politics next time his team will think about hosting their matches here as they are doing this to promote cricket and support the initiatives of HPCA in the state.
Amidst all this, HPCA president Anurag Thakur seems very determined to get a One Day game sanctioned for Dharamshala very soon and has also throw open a leisure club at the stadium. But the question is whether this kind of sports initiative is serving its real motive.
It is really surprising to see that a small city like Dharamshala, which doesn’t even have necessary infrastructure like good hospitals, educational institutions, wide roads and transport facility, has a world-class stadium first and now the relative infrastructure like a five star hotels are being planned. As of now, only the hotel industry & HPCA appear to be benefiting from this event as majority of the spectators are tourists from Punjab and other places, while the locals are being forced to bear with traffic jams and restricted movement due to VIPs thronging the place, even as the whole district administration too instead of being available to the public gets busy making arrangements for the event.