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Rhino buffs face ticket pangs

Ranchi Rhinos may have won the maiden edition of Hockey India Limited (HIL), but its franchisee owner quickly needs to come up with a winning formula to avoid chaos while selling tickets to fans for the second edition.

The capital will host the first match of HIL-2 on January 26 evening when defending champs Ranchi Rhinos take on UP Wizards at Astroturf stadium in Morabadi, a day after the second edition kicks off at Mohali. But getting tickets for the Sunday match proved to be a pain for thousands of hockey fans on Thursday.

The four counters at the stadium as well as others in malls and stores, were supposed to open at 9am on Thursday, but finally did after 4.30pm.

“We first came at 9am hoping to buy two tickets for Sunday’s match, found counters closed. We turned up at 1pm again, the situation was the same. No one at the counters in Morabadi stadium knew anything,” said Vikramjeet Kumar, a college student. Stationery store owner Bunty Kumar agreed: “We’ll have to come tomorrow (Friday).”

The chaos speaks of utter miscommunication between Ranchi Rhino franchisee owner Asia Sports Ventures Private Limited, a conglomerate headquartered at Calcutta, and Ticket Genie, a national agency that it has appointed for the sale of tickets.

According to HIL norms, ticket rights of league matches are mainly vested with franchisee owners, while apex body Hockey India has the rights to semi-final and final ones.

This means that for all HIL league matches featuring Ranchi Rhinos, Asia Sports Ventures and its outsourced vendor Ticket Genie are responsible for the sale of tickets.

But delay in opening counters apart, confusion also ruled over number of tickets sold on Thursday. “We don’t know sale figures but there was hardly any rush at counters,” said a stadium official.

Vikram Jain, one of the co-owners of Ranchi Rhinos, claimed otherwise. “I am told 90 per cent tickets sold out in one hour. We are sure of getting a full house in all our matches,” Jain said.

Ticket prices are up by over 70 per cent. This year, rates are Rs 150, Rs 200 and Rs 400. Of the 5,000 seats of the stadium, around 500 are blocked for passes.

On the delayed opening of ticket counters, he said it was due to coffee table book launch on hockey’s revival.

Former cricketer, commentator and BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu launched the coffee table book at a city hotel on Thursday. “Hockey is our identity,” said Sidhu. “Such formats will help hockey rediscover its golden era. It is a treat to watch Indians and foreigners play together as a team just like in IPL cricket matches,” Sidhu said.

Jain said tickets could also be bought from Mobile Store outlets on Circular Road, Power House Colony and Hinoo Road, Café Coffee Day branches on Main Road and Purulia Road, Galaxia Mall and JD High Street Mall. Tickets are available in Jamshedpur at Sakchi-based Mobile Store outlet and Bistupur’s Café Coffee Day branch.


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