Tuesday, April 18, 2006

When an event planner fails – India Vs. Pakistan in Abu Dhabi

India is playing Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, it is a two match series. This series is aimed at helping the victims of the deadly earthquake that happened in Pakistan a couple of months ago. The matches, dubbed as the DLF Cup happen on 18.04.2006 and 19.04.2006, a Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Both are day-night contests starting 3.30p Abu Dhabi time.

Well that was information we know. Now moving on to something else we might have missed out on…

Traditionally if you remember the days when matches in Sharjah used to be played. If it were an India, Pakistan fixture the match would be scheduled for either a Thursday evening, if it was a day-night or a Friday. The reason being, Thursdays are half working days in this part of the world and Fridays, as one might know a holiday. Thursdays and Fridays are considered weekends here.

Now try refresh your memory and remember the crowd composition. We had only two kinds of crowds. One the affluent crowd, which included the Anju Mahendru’s, Mandakini’s and others plus Abdul Rahman Bukhatir. This crowd would also include some known faces and names in terms of politicians, actors and others.

The second was the laborer crowd, these are people who come to the UAE to do some skilled labor work, including your mason, carpenter, mechanics and construction workers. This class constituted the largest chunk of the crowd, both Indians and Pakistanis.

You would seldom see people like me and you among the crowd. Unless we are given a free pass to watch the match from one of the vantage stands we wouldn’t even care to go near the over crowded stadium.

This is something we have seen in our TV’s and I have over my last year in the UAE heard from my friends who have been here since the hay days of Sharjah. Now let us see what the intelligent planners at the Sheikh Zayeed Stadium in Abu Dhabi have done for the DLF Cup.

A) They have scheduled the matches on working days

Even considering the fact that this is a day-night fixture starting by 3.30p. One is supposed to reach the stadium at least a couple of hours before to get a strategic position to watch the match.

Now, I am a laborer. I am a cricket buff. But when it comes to life and death I can do away with cricket. Well I guess that would how any sane human being would think. So if I were to bunk work where I get paid by the day, a peanut of a sum then I wouldn’t sacrifice work for cricket. I would rather give cricket a miss.

Now, if I was that serious a buff who didn’t want to miss work as well as work. I would at least have to sacrifice one session of the match, a strategic position and some valuable Dirhams to watch the second session and presentation. I frankly don’t know how many would want to do it.

So the planners have failed on one critical count. Now let us see what is next.

B) Pricing the tickets

The tickets have been priced at Dh. 50 for those famous grass mounds and Dh. 150 for seating. I am not even discussing the other tickets like the boxes. Now Dh. 50 is lots of money for the laborer.

May be that would make sense if he had the opportunity to watch the full match and also the glitterati from Bollywood who is going to perform and the fire works et al. But that would be a big MAY BE.

So the planners have failed in all critical aspects of staging a India – Pakistan encounter, a supposed money spinner in this part of the world.

The local newspaper just echoed my view. According to “Gulf News” there are 6000 tickets that are yet to be sold. I just got to know that the Dh. 50 mound passes are not sold in advance but sold in the venue, over the counter. The stadium seats 16,000 people. Now having not sold 6000 tickets, you expect 10,000 minus the crowd for the mounds. I don’t have a figure as to what the mounds would seat. Therefore. you would have to wait and see how much of your mounds gets filled.

To sum up, unless and until something extraordinary happens. Abu Dhabi government declares a local holiday for the matches or the laborers get a bonanza of a two day vacation, this match is going to be a failure in terms of crowd support in the venue.

Let us hope and pray the first international cricket match Abu Dhabi is staging is a success, Insha Allah. Hope I am proved wrong by the cricket crazy India & Pakistan supporters.

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