Some Common Sense, Finally?
Empty seats like these have forced World Cup organisers to rethink their strategy.
After the vast majority of games played so far in World Cup 2007 have been played in front of sparse crowds, organisers of the World Cup are starting to address the situation. This World Cup was supposed to be about Caribbean culture, but what we've seen is a very sterile form of the game, bereft of the sounds, colour, food and dancing that is normally associated with West Indian culture. Rather than embracing Caribbean culture, the ICC sought to micro-manage the very things that made the West Indian cricket culture unique. Faced with an apathetic reaction from locals, organisers are now trying to bring some of the Caribbean flavour to the tournament.
The truth is, this World Cup, despite the marketing and hype, was never intended for the locals. It's clear that the ICC was banking heavily on thousands of tourists (one pre-tournament estimate suggested that 100,000 tourists would come). Cases in point:
1)The prices of the tickets, ranging from US$15 (for warm ups) to US$300 (for the final), while below par for a major international tournament, are above the means of the majority of West Indians. A ticket of US$25 takes a week's earnings for many people.
2) The ridiculous restrictions at the stadia. Fans needed approval in order to carry musical instruments such as the iconic conch shell. At the first match, one fan had to turn over a whistle. People could not carry their own food, beverages or coolers, as West Indian fans are accustomed to. This of course, left them subject to the highly inflated prices charged by the concessionaires. Fans can not leave the match to return later. West Indians on the other hand, are used to coming and going during the match.
Well, now that the "Caribbean Invasion" of tourists has failed to materialise, orgainsers are turning to the very people that their restrictions alienated.
In Barbados, Stephen Alleyne
the CEO of the Local Organizing Committee, has promised more 'calypso cricket'
. He says that they are trying to ease the restrictions on musical items and on the carrying of food to the matches. He also said that spare tickets would be made freely available to school children. Alleyne also hinted that prices might be reduced to encourage more locals to turn out, a move that is being widely called for, including by some players, tired of playing in front of empty seats.
The ICC will need to approve that, however. Shall we hold our breaths?
On Jamaican radio today, Stephen Price
, the World Cup's Commercial Manager acknowledged that they were not getting the kind of turn out that they hoped for. He stated that they would try to get more of the locals involved through sponsorship of tickets for school children and local cricket clubs. He however, stopped short of saying that the prices would be reduced.
The World Cup so far has almost been a disaster for the organisers. They are wholly to blame for the suffocating restrictions that they placed on Caribbean fans as well as the pricing of the tickets. If they finally exercise some good judgment and lower the ticket prices and ease the restrictions
, then maybe the last games of World Cup 2007 might have some Caribbean flavour.
(Cross Posted from Rain, No Play
Labels: 2007 world cup, world cup