Cape Town (South Africa), Apr.17 (ANI): IPL Chairperson and Commissioner Lalit Modi has said that a key driving factor for the IPL has been to engage South Africans and build excitement and enthusiasm for the second edition of the tournament.
In that sense, the setting up the 2009 DLF IPL tournament in South Africa inside three weeks has been an effort that stretches well beyond logic in world sport.
"Once the need to move the tournament had been forced on us, we were determined that playing IPL 2009 in another country should be far more than an exercise in finding venues suitable for television. For us, South Africa was always suitable from a logistical and infrastructure point of view. But it is the welcome we've been given by ordinary South Africans that is justifying our belief that we can build a brand and legacy of involvement that last for years to come," Sports 24quoted Modi, as saying.
Modi said holding the DLF IPL in South Africa would bring with it tremendous economic benefits. "If we look at some of the key statistics it is clear to me that the economic benefits should be significant."
He points to the total of 22 000 hotel rooms that have been booked with Southern Sun Hotels, 10 000 domestic flight bookings made and the millions of rands expected to be spent on ticket, food and beverage, transport and merchandise sales.
"We also expect large groups of Indian tourists will come to South Africa to watch at least several games each," says Modi.
The DLF IPL also engaged South African Etienne de Villiers to lead the marketing drive. De Villiers was until recently head of the ATP Tour, the world governing body of men's tennis. He has also brought to bear years of earlier experience with the Walt Disney Group.
De Villiers, with the full-time support of Francois Pienaar, has lead the drive to ensure that matches feature the kind of fun, entertainment and excitement that the IPL became famous for in its first year in 2008.
The two have travelled across South Africa to brief local media on the IPL's plans and to encourage support.
"We're finding radio stations generally to be especially excited and interested in finding different ways to run promotions, very much in keeping with very different approach of the IPL," said De Villiers.
He said, Twenty20 cricket is by its nature more adrenalin-charged and an ideal vehicle around which to build many elements of fun and excitement for the whole family.
Modi said one of the most challenging aspects of the league organisation had been getting the schedule right. "My team finalised the schedule within 48 hours of arriving in South Africa."
"We started out having to schedule a league season of 56 games with each team playing the other seven on a home and away basis - plus three days of play-offs - in eight venues over a total of 37 days.
"There had to be an equal number of games per team in the main centres, no conflict with other major sports and cultural events and team and television production travel schedules had to be taken into account.
"Overall, then, I'm very pleased with the way it has worked out so far," he said.
Government at national, provincial and local levels had been exceptionally accommodating, while the Cricket SA had welcomed the IPL with open arms and made its world-class stadiums available, said Modi.
About 700 people are currently working full time in South Africa on the DLF IPL, including an enormous team that has relocated from India to South Africa.
This includes the Central IPL and IMG event team of 60, a television and digital media crew of over 200, the eight team franchises bringing about 30 playing staff each along with 20 coaching staff, executives and team owners for each team.
In South Africa, a range of companies were engaged over the course of several days at the end of March to provide security, broadcast support, PR and advertising, event management, entertainment, travel, hospitality and ticket sales. (ANI)