FIBA Asia Women’s Cup attracts sparse crowd

Lack of initiative to draw in crowds by authorities reflects in poor spectator attendance despite reasonable ticket prices.

Even matches involving India, the home team, have not attracted big crowds.   -  K. Murali Kumar

The best national teams from the Asia-Oceania region are competing in the city, at the FIBA Asia Women's Cup basketball tournament. The Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium and Koramangala Indoor Stadium have witnessed high-quality, dynamic and intense action, with the likes of Australia, Japan, China and home favourite India giving it their all on the court.

The crowd response at both venues, however, has been less than satisfactory thus far. On the first three days of the championship, the non-India matches drew sparse attendance, while the spectator numbers for fixtures involving the home team was only marginally better.

It would be fair to ask if the tournament organisers have done enough to bring fans to the venues. While daily tickets are reasonably priced at Rs. 100, Rs. 200 and Rs. 250, it would appear that sales has not been given a push through pro-active measures. Matches are not broadcast live on any Indian television channel. The lack of attendance has robbed this world-class tournament of some sheen.

‘No marketing strategy’

Basketball Federation of India vice-president, Chander Mukhi Sharma, explained that the organisers were focussed on conducting the event and on refurbishing the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium. Fuelling spectator interest was not a priority, he said. “No special campaign or marketing strategy was put in place for this. This is not a professional league like IPL, where we have to earn money. The main priority is to conduct the event, and to build the stadium infrastructure to international standards. Our workforce is totally engaged in this,” Sharma told Sportstar.

He repeatedly said that the only measure taken to fill the seats was to invite select schools, colleges and basketball clubs to buy tickets. “All major schools and colleges in the surrounding neighbourhoods - who send players to the State teams - have been sent invitations. We have not sent invitations to schools and colleges where there is no basketball, and no basketball player is there (sic),” Sharma said, adding, “But it is up to them to accept. Can we force anyone to come ?”

Asked if more effort could have been made to increase attendance, Sharma replied, “Why (should we do more)? It is our decision.”

Tickets are available on www.ticketgenie.in/fiba-tickets, and at box office counters at Sree Kanteerava Stadium. The knockout rounds begin on Thursday, and the finals (for both Division A and Division B) will be held at Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium on Saturday. Entry to Koramangala Indoor Stadium, where a majority of the lower Division B encounters are held, is free.

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