With tickets selling for up to R11,700 a pop, who can afford to watch Cricket World Cup in person?

General view of empty seats in the stands during New Zealand's innings. Picture: REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

General view of empty seats in the stands during New Zealand's innings. Picture: REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

Published Oct 6, 2023


By Ira Dugal

Match tickets selling for up to 50,000 Indian rupees (about R11,700) a pop. Flights to get to a venue. Hotel bookings. Or even just a match-watching party with food and alcohol ordered in.

It could explain why England and New Zealand opened the Cricket World Cup on Thursday faced with a largely empty stadium.

The cricket frenzy set to hit India as the International Cricket Council's World Cup begins in a nation of cricket-crazy fans is expected to give a short boost to the country's economy as consumers splurge to enjoy their favourite sport.

But numbers of fans were low at the start, with just a few hundred trickling into the mega-stadium and the vast majority of seats empty.

However, Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at Bank of Baroda is optimistic. World Cup related spending could add an estimated additional output of 180-200 billion Indian rupees in the October-December quarter with matches spread out over this month and the next, estimated Sabnavis.

"The World Cup has the potential to boost India’s GDP, more so because it coincides with the festive season," Sabnavis said.

"Consumption, particularly services consumption, is likely to receive the maximum boost. Hospitality and tourism sector are likely to benefit the most."

The 13th edition of tournament began in India on Thursday with 48 one-day international matches scheduled across a two month period.

India last hosted the World Cup in 2011, when 1.2 million people attended matches, according to data from brokerage house Jefferies.

Online travel and hotel booking platform MakeMyTrip said it is seeing increased travel bookings to cities, including Ahmedabad in Western India and Dharamshala in the north of the country where key matches will be played.

Ahmedabad, which will host a game between rivals India and Pakistan on Oct. 14, has seen a 200% increase in room reservations compared to August, said Rajesh Magow, group chief executive at the portal.

Demand for homestays has also risen as cricket fans are travelling in larger groups to watch matches, he said.

"On India match days, fares have shot up on average by 150% for select hotels and 80% for select flights compared with the prior week," said Jefferies in a note this week.

Hotels in smaller venues are fully sold out for multiple days.

The downside could be that more Indian consumers will stay in and watch matches rather than go out and spend on movies, theme parks and malls, said Jefferies.

"On the other hand, the event should provide boost to food delivery, quick commerce, alcobev, soft drinks, media, online gaming etc," the report said.

"We expect companies to run world-cup specific promotions on match days to tap this consumption boost."

The increased demand may also mean higher inflation.

"The upward bias in inflation on this score could be between 0.15-0.25% for these two months," said Bank of Baroda's Sabnavis, while adding that unpacking the impact of festivals from the impact of the cricket spectacle is difficult.