Crowd response along expected lines, says MCA President

“We are expecting more numbers on Saturday and Sunday. The ticket sales have been good,” says Abhay Apte, the MCA President.

A general view of the MCA Stadium during an ODI match. The opening Test of the India-Australia series is the first five-day game to be played here.   -  K. R. Deepak

Pune’s MCA Stadium became the 25th Indian venue to host a Test match. The crowds haven’t exactly filled the stadium, though. In fact, on the contrary, most of the seats have been vacant. The 37,000-seater stadium had only 7504 people on the first day, and the number wasn’t high on the second day either.

Speaking exclusively to Sportstar, the MCA President Abhay Apte said that the response was along expected lines. “We are expecting more numbers on Saturday and Sunday. The ticket sales have been good. This is Pune’s first Test match and we planned a lot of things to make it special,” he said.

Tickets have been given to the specially-abled and soldiers who were injured in the line of fire. “50 tickets are given every day to the specially-abled and 100 passes are given to wounded soldiers,” Apte said.

Efforts have been made to get more school children into the grounds to watch their heroes live. “The MCA and the BCCI, both have specific policies with regard to promotion of Test matches through schools and the response from the schools has been overwhelming. 100 passes are given to 5-6 schools every day. There is a list of schools who have expressed interest in coming to the grounds, but we want to ensure children have a positive experience, so we are inviting only a limited number.”

The MCA Stadium is almost fully open, and harsh sunlight during the day is said to be one of the reasons why people are staying away. Apte said that something permanent would be done about this soon but didn’t give any timeline. “The MCA tried making some last minute arrangements but it couldn’t materialise due to the strong winds. Before this the stadium was hosting only night matches, so as we host more events, we will learn about the shortcomings and we’ll certainly address them in the future.”