Balewadi hit by dwindling revenues
ISL absence forces authorities to rent out main stadium to non football/athletic events
Pune: With the pack-up of Indian Super League club FC Pune City, the footballing action at the Balewadi Sports Complex stadium came to a complete halt. The turf got a fresh lease of life when Odisha FC played their three home games here on November 24, December 4 and 11 due to ongoing work on their home ground.
With no footballing action expected from now, which formed a major chunk of revenue and with dwindling income, the authorities at the Balewadi Sports Complex are forced to rent out the ground to non athletic/football events. A stage is now being built on the turf for the upcoming 63rd edition of Maharashtra Kesari wrestling championship which will be held from January 2 to 7.
A stage on the turf of the main stadium will mean that all the effort which was put in by groundsmen to make it match-worthy during the Odisha FC games will go wasted. Unlike cricket pitches where there is maintenance going on throughout the year, when it comes to the turf at Balewadi, it is maintained only during the duration of a tournament.
Last year, FC Pune City played nine home games here at the Balewadi Sports Complex stadium. For a match, a rough rent of Rs 3 lakhs is paid which includes match day and one day before where teams come and train at the ground and other preparations are being done.
With no Indian Super League action in Pune now, Balewadi stands to lose around Rs 36 lakhs.
To make up for this loss, the authorities in Balewadi have started renting the main stadium out to other sports events. Many a times schools and private organisers do rent it out for their sporting events which are less in number.
“With no football taking place at Balewadi, obviously the revenues are bound to take a hit. The authorities can rent out the facility to non football and athletic events but care has to be taken that the turf should not be damaged. Globally most of the stadiums host non sporting events to generate revenue. While most of these stadiums are privately owned, some of them owned by government bodies are also leased out for non sporting events. Also as the stadium is AFC approved there are possibilities of a football match happening anytime just like how Odisha FC played here. So the turf has to be football ready anytime,” Jehan Kothary, Sports Management Consultant said.
Ashish Gawas, a sports enthusiast added “I think, the stadium should not be rented out for non athletic events, but should be given to schools and corporates for their sports days. This will help to raise money which can be used to maintain facilities at Balewadi.”
“The rates for schools should be less while rates for the corporates should be on the higher side. In this way balance can be achieved. The Balewadi stadium can be used as a neutral ISL venue for semifinals or even for I-League teams who are not having stadiums of their own. The biggest aspect here is that the stadium is AFC approved. I think if we have proper support, everything is possible.
Moreover Pune District Football Association (PDFA) matches happen on very poor grounds. Balewadi stadium can be used for PDFA Super Division matches at least,” Gawas added.