ISL 2017: Why Kerala Blasters need to build their own stadium
Kerala Blasters will face ATK at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi to kick-start their ISL campaign on the 17th of this month. However, the Blasters fans have expressed their concern over the reduction in capacity of their home fortress, the JLN Stadium Kochi. As per some reports, only 41,000 fans would be allowed in the stadium during ISL.
This came after the renovation of the stadium for the FIFA U17 World Cup, with the installing of bucket seats at top tier stands, the capacity has been significantly reduced in ISL 2017 to 41,000 from 61,000. However, FIFA had further reduced the capacity to 29,000 during the World Cup, citing security reasons.
Kerala Blasters are widely regarded as one of the most followed clubs in India. They are even listed among the top 100 attended clubs in the world for a match day. The Yellow Army is best known for their loud fan base. Since their inception in 2014, with cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar on board as co-owner, the Blasters fans are making waves across the country. They are the pillar of strength and acting as the 12th player for the Blasters wherever they play.
Kerala Blasters are the only team in ISL, who have an average attendance of more than 50,000. The passionate fans who make ISL a festive season, always are demanding a football-specific stadium with a capacity of more than 60,000.
Incidentally, one of Kerala Blasters' co-Owner and industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad, earlier stated that they are planning to build their own stadium with more than 60,000 capacity. However, according to him, it will take at least five years to materialise.
If you look at the commercial aspects also, it is high time for the management to tap into the potential market effectively. However, as a first step to the huge market, the management already initiated the sale of the Blasters' official jersey for an affordable price of 499. It is same is selling like hot cakes. This is indeed a great welcome sign from the Blasters management.
Manjappada, the official fan club of Kerala Blasters, have wings across India, the Middle East and even in Europe and the Americas. No wonder they have won the best fan club of the year by 'Indian Sports Honours'.
In Kerala, people are booking tourist buses to make it easier for the fans to reach the stadium on time. Nowadays as ISL fast approaching, in every corner, there is only one talk, Kerala Blasters.
The tickets for the first match have been completely sold out within hours after it up for sale, and only a few VIP tickets are available as of now.
The craze for the Blasters has spread throughout Kerala. Be it with mother, father, brother, sister, teachers or anyone, they are there to support the Men in Yellow.
You can see private buses being painted in Blasters colours, to showcase their loyalty towards the club. Some people have even painted their homes and rooms according to the Blasters' colours!
Even I came across several experiences like an 8-years-old boy querying me about Kerala Blasters jersey and help him to attend a home match. Such is the passion among Keralites for their side.
So, I believe creating their own stadium to accommodate the loyal fans will be a hugeboost for the Blasters. In fact, it will open a new channel for revenue generation from areas like naming rights and rent it for other football matches.
Main football stadiums in the world such as Arsenal's Emirates Stadium and Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena all follow this model. The Blasters can also step into this highly potential market if they are willing. It will make sure a sustainable environment for the club in a long run. Sponsors are out there, they just need a gentle push to make it a happen.
Though teams like FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC are having their own training pitches, at the moment, Jamshedpur FC is the only team in ISL who have their own stadium, JRD Tata Sports Complex.
They are spending around Rs 40 crores to make it a perfect stage for the Indian Super League. So technically, they are spending money on their own facilities, to make it a profitable venture in the long-term run. It is an ideal model for everyone to follow, if they have entered the world of football with a long term view.