The idea is good and hopefully the implementation lives up to it is what Indian Olympic Association President Narinder Batra had to say about the government issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for undertaking feasibility studies for a Rs 7,853 crore renovation of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium based in the national capital.
"I know how things operate world over. It's always the case that the cost of projects like these is on the basis of the venues and sooner or later we have to start doing things this way in our country as well," Batra told IANS on Thursday.
"Our stadiums will otherwise disintegrate so the thought is good but now all of it needs to be implemented. Now we have to wait and watch what kind of proposals come in from private entities.
"Am in support of this? Yes. This is how things should happen and not only the central government state governments should also follow this procedure. Otherwise we will end up with sports complexes becoming more of shopping plazas or something else and we won't be able to hold matches there. Commercialisation should be only to meet the running costs of the complexes but the international standards should be maintained."
Batra spoke about the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi, which over the course of the decade lost its status as India's premier hockey venue to the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
"A good clean stadium is needed for holding international tournaments and that doesn't even seem possible there now. So the Dhyan Chand stadium is such an iconic stadium for hockey but there is no hockey there. There also commercialisation was done so running costs can be taken care of. The thought was good but the implementation went wrong.
"This example needs to be kept in mind when undertaking projects like these. They have quoted what has happened in places like Sydney and Holland and hopefully they will follow that pattern or we will end up having another situation like that of the National Stadium."
Batra also said that if implemented well, projects such as these can get more private money towards non-cricket sports.
"If you look at sponsorship revenue, 93 per cent goes to cricket and a bulk of the rest goes to football or sports like tennis or badminton. We make do with whatever we get after that but it will be good if more money flows in.
"It is all dependent on viewership. We don't have enough money to pay off the big broadcasters. Government had asked the Doordarshan to show all national championships live on television but Doordarshan doesn't do anything. These competitions are shown on Yotube sometimes but it doesn't have the effect television broadcast will have."
Batra expects the JLN stadium project to go on for the next few years. "This is just an RFP. Everyone knows this is not a one-year project so now the private entities will give their proposals based on what they themselves want from the project. It's not like all private entities are facing financial troubles there are a few like the pharma industry which are experiencing big profits. But yes it will take at least a year for business to normalise so this is certainly going to take some time," Batra signed off.