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A perfect 10 for IPL: 2 new bids add up to more than previous 8

Taking stakes in the Indian Premier League to a new height,two new franchises joined the cash-awash tournament for the 2011 season.

Written by Express News Service | Chennai/new Delhi |
March 22, 2010 3:23:21 am

Taking stakes in the Indian Premier League to a new height,two new franchises on Sunday joined the cash-awash tournament for the 2011 season,sold for a combined amount bigger than the worth of the original eight franchises put together.

While business conglomerate Sahara bagged Pune,little-known consortium Rendezvous Sports World Ltd took Kochi.

IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi said Sahara Adventure Sports Group made the highest bids for three cities — Ahmedabad,Nagpur and Pune — an identical amount of US $370 million each. “They were asked to choose one of the cities. Accordingly,Pune will be their home ground,” Modi told reporters. Rendezvous made the second highest bid today and their offer of US $333.33 million was enough to land the Kochi franchise.

“In all,five groups qualified for the bid. The bidding was extremely competitive and I hope they make good business,” Modi beamed.

Among those who lost out were Adani Group,VC Digital Solution (Videocon) — apparently backed by Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor — and a Pune consortium. Sahara’s bid for Pune was way better than what the Adani Group (US $315 million) or the Pune consortium (US $261.3 million) had to offer.

While Modi dismissed speculation that Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor had financial interest in the bid for Kochi franchise,he did play a big enough role to have not only co-owners but the IPL Commissioner gushing.

Both Modi and Tharoor were busy on Twitter after the auction. Modi wrote “the record sale has left me speechless” and added: “Shashi Tharoor worked hard to put this together and I must congratulate him in putting this together so quickly and swiftly.”

The Indian Express had on March 19 reported about Tharoor’s efforts to bring together a group of businessmen to float the franchise for his home state Kerala. A co-owner,Vivek Venugopal of the Kerala food products company Elite Group,showered words like “inspiration”,“mentor”,“guide” and “patron” to describe Tharoor’s role on Sunday in bringing together the businessmen who bid as the Rendezvous Sports World Ltd-led consortium.

In his Twitter remarks,Tharoor said: “Congratulations to all Kerala cricket lovers on the news that 1 of the 2 new IPL teams will be based in Kochi. Cricket will inspire all Keralites… I am NOT part of the bid but was pleased 2give Rendezvous Sports World my encouragement & blessings. My interest is in transforming Kerala #IPL.”

Apart from little-known Rendezvous and Elite Group,the owners of the Kochi team are Rosy Blue Diamond,Parinee Developers,Anchor group,Anand Shyam Estates and Developers,Film Waves Combine Private Ltd,and Mukesh Patel. Rendezvous group is owned by Sanjay Gaikwad. While Rosy Blue is a major diamond and jewellery company and Anchor a noted name in the field of electrical goods,Parinee is a Mumbai-based builder with interests in Kerala.

“Tharoor told us that Kerala has the potential. An IPL team for Kerala makes sense. He provided us the necessary support and guidance,” Venugopal said.

Talking to reporters in Kerala,Tharoor said he had done everything possible for an IPL team but had “no special role” in the venture. “It requires only my blessings. I wished that at least six players in the team should be from Kerala,” he said,adding that Sreesanth,a native of Kochi,may join the team once his contract with Kings XI Punjab was over.

The cities in the fray for Sunday’s bid were Pune,Ahmedabad,Nagpur,Kanpur,Dharamsala,Vizag,Rajkot,Cuttack,Baroda,Kochi,Indore and Gwalior. The minimum base price of the franchises for the next 10 years was US $225 million. So from 2011,IPL will become a 10-team league featuring 94 games.

The bidding process had been scheduled to be completed by March 7 but got postponed after the bidders objected to stiff financial guidelines,which were eventually relaxed.

Modi said since Kerala Cricket Association is yet to complete their stadium,IPL would provide the new franchise an alternative venue,“which can be anywhere in India”.

Elated after bagging Pune,Sahara spokesman Abhijit Sarkar said it was a matter of great pride for the company,which has been Team India sponsor for a long time. “Sahara is the biggest patron of sports in the country and we have been associated with the BCCI family for the past 15 years,” he said.

Modi made it clear that there was no plan to have a second IPL abroad. “I’m always misquoted. There will be only one IPL,played in India… Please don’t speculate. Yes,some of the IPL teams will play exhibition matches all over the world but no IPL abroad,” he said.

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