Posted by: nestaquin | April 6, 2010

The IPL Unexplained Part 2

One of the many recurrent themes emanating from the spin merchants within the IPL marketing department is that the IPL will become an equal of the EPL, NFL and NBA.

If managed wisely this lofty ambition is certainly achievable over the next few decades but at present the IPL is a long way from that standard of professionalism especially in the practise of stadia presentation.

If you need an example of the IPL’s failure in this regard look no further than the recent amateurish attempts of graphic grass design at Chepauk Stadium.

The ground was scarred with a criss-crossed pattern wheel and the letters CSK and it could have looked impressive if done by someone with experience and expertise but regrettably it appeared to have been achieved by a bloke with a homemade stencil and a can of kerosene.

It looked as cheap and tawdry as a taxidermed Thylacine and like the cheerleaders the image broadcast around the globe doesn’t do India any favours.

Seldom in the English and North American competitions mentioned above would you find a playing surface presented in anything less than perfect condition and if the administrators of the IPL are sincere in their ambitions then they will need to invest heavily in stadia infrastructure and horticultural personnel in the years to come.

If you don’t know yet we have a Facebook page and if you’re curious to learn how the MCG ground staff created the stunning design in the photograph click here.


  1. Nesta,

    Interesting post indeed. This surfaces from the basic premise of this whole model, where the sports spectator is not placed at the core of the whole design process. Had that been the case, the whole in-game experience would reveal that the infrastructure and facilities should be high up in priority.

    Unfortunately, I think the IPL model is driven more renvenue by TRP ratings and other forms of media entertainment, rather than the in-stadia experience (which would be why I felt that they would have no problems moving the show to South Africa or any other place with less stadium-goers, as long as there are enough couch potatoes watching).

    Coming to the point of IPL reaching the fervor of EPL, NFL etc, I think the big difference is that revenue is strongly tied to a club’s performance in EPL, NFL and so on, unlike IPL, where everyone grows richer for sure. I read this in an interview with Modi too , where he mentioned the same. It was also mentioned that extensive player rotations would take place between all teams to keep the “quality” consistent and evenly competitive.

    Now, that’s a big difference. For example, in the EPL, I’m more of a Liverpool lifer , regardless of the players. In the IPL, I would have no affinity to any specific team, unless I bleed Delhi or Bombay through my arse. This gets even more weird when I see my fav players in different teams every 2-3 years.

    I think the loyalty would be missing. The IPL is more a bit of entertainment … think WWE :-)

    Apologies on the long rant!


  2. Rant respected and appreciated. Thanks mate.

    I’m now wondering if the model you describe is sustainable long-term.

  3. When i first saw the chepauk stadium, i thought it was a mayan calendar or some alien design. It was certainly not looking good.
    Regarding improving the stadium facitlity, the franchises dont have incentive to improve them for the simple fact they dont own them.
    Already they are working on the potential income for IPL has a whole. So they will not spend so much to improve a stadium which they are going to rent out for 2 months. Anyway IPL is more of a television product so we cannot expect much from the franshises.

  4. I don’t think player rotations make a difference though. Players move from team to team to some extent in the EPL and in US baseball.

    If the IPL sticks around the fans from each city will become died in the wool. Everything has to start somewhere.

  5. With the glass half full, it’s amazing what has been achieved in two years. There’s a long way to go, but five years ago, who imagined this?

  6. It may have achieved a lot in two years tooting but what a lot of people don’t realize is IPL or not, it is still cricket. And cricket is difficult to grasp. It’s just how the game is. Very technical. And I feel to love cricket, you have to understand all of it. How long can boundaries keep someone interested? Football on the other hand, is very,very simple. Take a ball and kick it in the net.

    One could argue that baseball is similar and still popular in places like North America, which I believe is one of the target regions of the IPL. They want people here to get interested in cricket. But why would they learn a even more complicated version of baseball when they already know baseball inside and out?

    As much as we would like it to, Cricket will never be as big as Football and hence the IPL will never be as big as the EPL.

  7. I don’t agree with this assertion that T20/IPL is a “television product”. For several reasons:
    1) Television revenues are static with respect to the audience. Adding 25% more franchises won’t necessarily add 25% to the television revenue, because the tv coverage is already available everywhere, and additional games dilutes the overall interest – making people more likely to watch only their local team, for example. Gate receipts however, are inherently local, and even in an expanded competition, 9 home games is not a lot.

    2) If television revenue is close to maxed out, adding more teams reduces the per franchise payout. Moreover, for every increase in value a franchise owner brings via a tv audience, they get about 7%. Given gate receipts seem to go directly to the franchise, targeting the live audience pays off directly to the owner. TV can and does provide huge revenues, but the fans of EPL or American franchise put almost as much into their clubs.

    3) T20 is by far the best of the formats to watch live. A full day at a test of ODI match is hard to take in, and takes a huge chunk of time. It is much better suited to tv, where you can dip in and out, and do other things while it is on. A T20 game is 4 hours or so, perfect for live viewing.

    This is not to say the current IPL model is not tv based. TV is the model of choice for international sport, and that is what top-level cricket has always been. But I’m willing to bet that any future expansion won’t be based on a tv model.

    • That should read: “1: television audiences are static with respect to the number of franchises”

  8. Wise words Russ & Purna.

    I’m not certain of what happens in the rest of the world but the TV networks and corporations who pay big bucks to be involved in the AFL and Australian cricket expect the grounds to look in perfect condition so that their broadcast and products can be seen against the best possible backdrop.

    The staging at a recent AC/DC concert at Docklands Stadium left the turf at one end dead and it never had time to recover before an inconsequential pre-season AFL match.

    The AFL, the teams involved, their sponsors and broadcasters and even the supporters all complained bitterly because the ground wasn’t up to scratch and made their ‘product’ look bad.

    Image is everything in marketing and eventually the networks and corporations paying an arm and a leg to be involved in the IPL will start to demand that the grounds are well populated and of an excellent standard so they provide a glossy backdrop to whatever crap their trying to foister upon us.

  9. Today’s effort at turf design in Jaipur looks like and is as attractive as a prison tattoo. I hope this trend of ridiculous grass graffiti doesn’t continue for too much longer.

    With players with masking tape for numbers and helmets with ripped stickers flopping in the wind the IPL doesn’t look like a multi-million dollar tournament. Instead it appears a cobbled together mess that makes boasts about being on par or better than the EPL or NFL appear a complete fantasy.

    Note: The next match has begun and Eden Gardens looks in very good nick. Some of the other groundsmen around India could learn a thing or two from the bloke in charge in Kolkata.

  10. Much as I love Test cricket, I would be reluctant to take both my kids to a day at the Test. I took Jesper to Lord’s in 2007 and he saw Smith and McKenzie grind out most of day. I liked it, but not ideal for him.

    I’ll be taking both of them to T20 at the Oval and 40 over stuff this summer, because there is always something happening. There’s time for them to graduate to Test cricket.

    Re IPL – like Facebook and Myspace, the second brand on the scene is well placed to take advantage of the problems solved or not by the first (in this case the ICL). It, like India’s economy, is here to stay and can grow exponentially… if they get the right leadership.

  11. My kids had a fantastic time at the Bellerive Test. Punter’s double century is now a lifelong memory for them. It’s something they’ll tell their own kids just like my Dad told me stories of his First Test where Fred Trueman and Richie Benaud dominated and his father before him about Bradman and Hammond.

    Cricket Australia provide lots of activities around the ground to keep the kids entertained like dozens of big screens where they can play Wii cricket, inflatable jumping castles, nets with a speed gun where they can throw at a target and get a certificate with their score on it, sponsors sample bags with balls, hats and other paraphenalia in it, a photo studio where they can receive a glossy 10 x 8 in plastic sleeve with their head superimposed over Mike Hussey’s holding his bat and helmet high celebrating a century, coaching clinics with Justin Langer, autograph stations where they can meet their favourite players. And all included with the price of admission.

    Pat, who has just celebrated his 8th Birthday turned to me last night while we were watching the IPL and said, “Have you got tickets for the Ashes Test yet?”

    After I told him there was no Test at Bellerive next season he suggested we go to Melbourne or Sydney for all five days instead. Tickets go on sale in July and I’ve little choice but to take him. Well, that’s what I told his Mum when I instantly sensed some opposition to the idea.

  12. I was wondering about those patterns. I thought they’d been some kind of accident!

  13. Yes Nesta. English grounds are constrained by space which tends to be taken by corporate hospitality. At £90 for a ticket, there aren’t many kids at the Test anyway.

    Sounds like Pat had a great day – watching Neil McKenzie get a ton doesn’t compare with the hometown hero!

    I hope Pat does get to Melbourne or Sydney and that he isn’t too disappointed!

    • The planning has already begun to attend the Sydney Test!

      Hopefully the Ashes will be returned before the last Test but we’ll be in the Monty Noble Stand enjoying the cricket and sledging KP regardless. It could conceivably be Punter’s final appearance in the BaggyGreen and that will make it a very special occasion and one not to be missed. Again, that’s what I told the missus!

      A few weeks before the tickets are on sale I’ll be inviting any readers in Sydney at the time to join us. More on that in a few months.

  14. Unfortunately it’s hard to see the grounds being better. You have to keep in mind that a major percentage of the IPL viewing public watches no sport other than cricket, and for them this is a major upgrade from how things were a few years ago.

    So while people the world over who have been exposed to Aussie Rules, European Football, NFL, MLB can compare the IPL to world standards, those in India only have the revenue figures that Modi throws at them and money is what the middle class in India uses to determine success. A few weeks ago there was an article in a national newspaper about IPL players being the second-highest paid professional sportsmen. Obviously they had twisted the figures and cited per week salaries for comparison with players from other leagues.

    • I’m only judging the IPL on global standards because Modi never ceases making wild claims. A more humble salesman would understand it’s a bit early for comparisons with the major leagues of the world.

      I guess in India it works but in the rest of the world it just appears funny and ridiculous. That’s not saying that the IPL cannot get to those heights but there is a lot of water to go under the bridge before that can happen.

      • It is exactly the point I’m trying to make. But then Modi knows his audience is not going to call him out on his tall claims so he can get away with pretty much anything. I was talking to Homer about this and mentioned a proverb in my native language. Roughly translated, it means “Those who have lived a life of penury will be content with whatever little you give them”.

        I like the IPL because I have affinity for Delhi and hate Mumbai. But I can see why people who don’t have any affiliation with the teams would find it hard to follow the games. I will watch it but there is no way in hell I would rate it anywhere near the top sports leagues in the world simply because I’ve been to some of those games and have been following them for over a decade now.

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