Chennai expresses wish to host PBL

In the two years since the league was re-branded in 2016, Chennai is yet to host a tie owing to a number of reasons and hopes to achieve the same in the upcoming edition.

The Premier Badminton League tentatively scheduled for the period December 26 to January 18, 2018.   -  AP

The fate of Chennai playing host for the Premier Badminton League (PBL) season three was once again an issue left open for negotiations with the officials and team owners hopeful of a swift resolution at the launch here on Wednesday.

In the two years since the league was re-branded in 2016, Chennai is yet to host a tie owing to a number of reasons, some beyond the hands of the tournament organisers.

In the lead-up to the first season of PBL, Chennai was submerged in torrential rains in December 2015. The proposed venue Jawaharlal Nehru indoor stadium was better served as a relief hub.

In the following year, cyclone Vardha struck the city and damaged the stadium's roof. The repair works ensured that the Ultimate Tennis League (UTT) was held at the venue successfully last month.

Although nature had a big say, it is thought to be that even on a bright sunny day it would be an impossible task for Chennai to stage the tournament.

It was reported last month that All India Football Federation (AIFF) decided to move the Champions Cup out of Chennai due to exorbitant rates being charged by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT).

Sportzlive, the license holders of the league, were pretty confident of penning down the city’s venue for PBL -3. “The rates (charged by SDAT) won’t be an issue. We will be doing everything possible to make sure to bring the league to Chennai,” said Prasad Mangipudi, Sportzlive’s executive director.

The tournament is scheduled to take place between December 22 and January 14. The semifinals and the final have been mapped in at Chennai from January 12-14 coinciding with the Tamil Nadu holiday Pongal in mind.

“Chennai has one of the biggest indoor stadiums. Imagine the 7,000 spectators cheering on for a P.V. Sindhu or a Saina Nehwal,” said an exuberant Prasad.

Pullela Gopichand, who is actively involved with the league, said he would like to see Chennai return as host for a major badminton event after the Indian Open Grand Prix in 2010, where his ward Saina clinched gold.

“Last year, I was doing my bit to ensure the infrastructure was in place for the league and will do the same this year too. It's a great venue to have,” said the former All England champion.

Chennai Smashers, the defending champion, and its owner Vijay Prabhakar also remained hopeful to see the team run out in front of the home crowd for the very first time.

Prabhakar denied there was any political undertone to this issue – while quizzed on the ongoing rift between his father Vijaykanth’s DMDK party and the state’s ruling AIADMK party.

“We will approach the SDAT and the relevant authorities four months in advance to make this a possibility. But we also need the support of SDAT,” said Prabhakar. He also said that it was akin to having an arm tied behind when being forced to playing away from Chennai.

The Smashers might yet again be forced to look for a home away from home in the event of a setback.