Karnataka government’s draft stadium policy invites criticism

It has demanded a share of the revenue from private franchise-based leagues held in the State

The move by the Department of Youth Empowerment & Sports (DYES), Govt. of Karnataka, to demand a share of the revenue generated from the conduct of private franchise-based leagues in the State has not been received well.

Bengaluru has fairly successful franchises in football, kabaddi and badminton.

In a draft policy formulated to govern the use of State-owned stadia, DYES has demanded a 25% share of all ticketing revenue, prohibited printed ticket sales (only online sales allowed) and directed organisers of marathons to part with 25% of all donations collected, apart from a deposit amount which is 25% of the average donations collected over the past three years.

Previously the State had no official policy, but the Karnataka High Court, while hearing a dispute over the use of the Sree Kanteerava Stadium for footballing activities last year, directed the government to devise one. Stakeholders can file objections to the contents by midnight of August 20.

“This policy dissuades any of us from conducting events,” said Mandar Tamhane, CEO of Indian Super League (ISL) club Bengaluru FC (BFC), which normally plays its home matches at the Kanteerava Stadium. “No other sport apart from cricket makes money. This 25% can help us mitigate our losses. To take that away puts a spanner in all the talk about encouraging all sports.

“We at BFC have maintained the turf, installed bucket seats and improved the flood lights, initiatives that have helped all sports. The ISL is the top division of Indian football and clubs from it represent India in Asia. This move doesn’t seem to consider any of that.”

Restricted access

The policy also limits the use of the Kanteerava Stadium 400m track for day-to-day training to national- and international-level athletes and those residing in the sports hostels.

The rest have to make do with the adjacent 200m track. Also, only those with coaching diplomas, and medallists at the Asian, Commonwealth, World and Olympic levels, can impart training.

Athlete-turned-coach Pramila Aiyappa, heptathlon bronze medal winner at the 2010 Asian Games, agreed with proposed rule related to coaches’ qualification but was not keen on restricting access to the track.

“You cannot become a national or international athlete overnight. Denying the 400m track to a young upcoming athlete will stop his development,” she said.

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