If you are one of the 2 people who have actually followed this blog for the past few years, then you would know that I’ve been often surprised by the number of live sporting events I’ve had the opportunity to attend while living in India and the quality of my experiences while attending these events. When I moved to Delhi I assumed that my consumption of live sports would dramatically decrease, an even if I did make it to an event, that the customer service wouldn’t compare to what I’ve experienced in the US. Boy, was I wrong.
On Friday night I attended my first IPL match. Yes, my first IPL match. It’s quite embarrassing to write this given that I work in sports marketing in India, the IPL is one of the world’s most discussed sports properties and a very close friend is heading up business operations for the Delhi Daredevils. My only weak argument is that I don’t enjoy cricket much and couldn’t imagine spending a few hours in traffic just to spend a few hours in a stadium watching a sport which makes you wish you were back in traffic. That said, I bit the bullet and requested my friend to set up 2 tickets to the Delhi Daredevils last home match of the 2013 season.
As we entered hour #2 on the freeway stuck in disgusting Delhi traffic, the game had already started and I was tempted to just skip the match and head to one of my favorite South Delhi restaurants as I was starving. But my generous friend went out of his way to secure tickets for me as the game was sold out and I didn’t want to let him down by not showing up. Plus I was really curious to experience what all the hype was about. After jumping out of the car about 1 km away from the stadium, walking through the death-defying chaos on the road and 5 security checkpoints, we finally got to the “Super Hospitality” box at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
If getting to and into the stadium was hell, then my experience inside of the stadium was definitely heaven. "Super Hospitality” actually means “Super Hospitality.” It was like the Daredevils had organized a wedding on the concourse of the stadium in conjunction with the cricket match. Before even seeing a ball being bowled, I walked into a tent which had no less than 15 food choices including a live Dosa counter. Beyond that there were about 5 open bars set up around the tent and another 4 refrigerators packed with Kingfisher beer cans which anyone could just walk up to and help themselves. My guest and I enjoyed what felt like a once in a lifetime experience and indulged in every single item the Daredevils were offering us as part of our hospitality package. In the end the Daredevils barely lost to a strong Royal Challengers Bangalore team in an exciting match and my guest and I were drunk off food, alcohol and celebrity sightings. The perfect end to a not so perfect start to the evening.
On a more seriousness note, I completely understand why corporates and investors continue to pump in large sums of money into the IPL as the experience truly is a cut above any other sports property to have ever taken place in India including the Asian and Commonwealth Games. Domestic football has ways to go to create this type of experience, but I’m 100% confident that we will get there…