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Hope for sports varsity, 3 firms in queue

Jharkhand’s hopes of boasting a national sports university have been rekindled with three companies showing interest in the project much to the relief of the state government that had been left red in the face after an earlier attempt failed to attract a single bidder.

The sports department had floated a global expression of interest towards the end of January, inviting private players to partner the state in setting up the much-delayed National Sports University at the multi-crore Hotwar stadium built during the 34th National Games.

But, big-ticket investors like the Tatas, Jindals and the Abhijeet group or PSUs such as Mecon, Central Coalfields Limited — all known for their efforts to promote sports — stayed away.

Three outstation companies have now responded after the state reworked some of the clauses in tender documents.

Bangalore-headquartered SPT Sports Management Pvt Ltd and Mumbai-based Jain Associates and IL&FS submitted bids before the last date on February 20. The sports department is now evaluating all the three proposals before initiating talks with them.

“The bidders have sought some relaxation in our tie-up clauses and we are looking into them. We are hopeful of calling them for talks by the end of the month,” said sports director Dadan Choubey.

He clarified that the department was committed to setting up the sports university-cum-centre of excellence at the Hotwar sports hub and didn’t want to rush through out of desperation.

“It’s true that that it has been a long time… But let me assure you that the department is doing all it can to make the sports varsity a reality. Earlier, there were a few holes in our plan, but we have addressed those issues and come up with better clauses and partnership deeds this time,” Choubey added.

Of the major changes, the stakes for the project on public-private partnership mode have been reworked to 51:49 ratio with the state government holding the minor share. While the state will provide stadiums and infrastructure, the chosen firm/s will be entrusted with setting up and running the academies in various disciplines.

The academies will be set up at the existing sports facilities, namely nine stadiums at Hotwar, two in Morabadi and one in Namkum. Each study centre will boast dormitories, hostels for boys and girls, VIP guesthouse and administrative blocks.

Enrolled players will also be eligible for health insurance, a monthly stipend of Rs 1,000, two sets of sports kits and blazers.

The government first announced the plan to set up a sports university during the concluding ceremony of the 34th National Games in 2011 and took its first step by floating tenders in December-end of that year. But not a single company responded, necessitating a re-look at the clauses and floating of a fresh tender.