New Venue, Sponsors Set Stage Ahead Of Seventh Indian Premier League Tournament
After a "good two months of speculation, uncertainty and what have you, the event they often call cricket’s Super Bowl is finally upon us," according to Gautam Bhattacharyya of GULF NEWS. The UAE will now become only the second overseas venue after South Africa "to host the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League." It all seems like a dream for the cricket fans of this Gulf state, "but they are ready to live it up for the next two weeks." The question marks over crowds at the three venues of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, especially on weekdays, "was quite a ticklish issue." The overwhelming response among the expat crowd as soon as tickets went on sale online on April 3 "was quite a revelation, once again underlining the strength of the IPL as a product for any segment of the cricket-loving public." The magnetism of the IPL once again "seems to be confounding the critics" -- if the response of some of the sponsors in the build-up to IPL-7 are anything to go by. The last week "has seen at least three new sponsorship deals being announced, with Etihad Airways tying up with Mumbai Indians; ICT solutions provider Huawei India becoming the principal sponsors of Royal Challengers Bangalore, and UST Global announcing a joint sponsorship with India Cements for Chennai Super Kings" (GULF NEWS, 4/14). In Dubai, K.R. Nayar wrote when the idea of a Test series being staged in the UAE was first considered, "its practicality was also questioned." Now, though, the UAE is a regular Test center, "with Pakistan using the country as its home ground while their country is considered unsafe to host international matches." But the UAE became the Int'l Cricket Council’s headquarters by popular consent and today "it has one of the world’s best state-of-the-art cricket academies in its premises." Almost all nations now "prefer to stop over in the UAE for training at this facility." Umpires and coaches also fly to the UAE "to sharpen their skills." The UAE "has thus transformed itself into a cricketing hub." With tickets for the IPL being sold out quickly, UAE fans "have revealed their hunger to witness the event’s glitz, glamour and sporting thrills." The IPL in the UAE "is expected to be a terrific success and let’s not be surprised if it becomes a regular venue for this event in the future" (GULF NEWS, 4/14).