Through The Roof
One of the most expensive tours ever in the history of the game began the moment Prime Minister Vajpayee announced at the saarc summit that India will go to Pakistan. Even before Saurav Ganguly showed the courage in Australia to voice the fears of his players on safety grounds, a huge marketing machinery had begun moving. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) charged $1,000 for every bid document. Twenty-nine Indian companies picked up these papers to stake a claim at naming the series after them or their clients, co-sponsoring the event, bagging internet and radio rights and putting up advertisements inside the stadia.
Samsung won the auction for title sponsorship after pledging $4 million to the PCB. (Almost thrice as much as what Sahara paid six years ago to get a tournament in Toronto named the Sahara Cup). Hero Honda bought the co-sponsorship rights of the coming series at $1.5 million. The 20-by-three feet boards around the boundary ropes are today going at $2,00,000 to $3,50,000. To prevent the embarrassment of being swamped by Indian companies, Pakistan gave away only 60 per cent of the in-stadia space in what is called the "unrestricted" category. The rest have been reserved for firms with Pakistani affiliation. But insiders say that the series has become so lucrative that they will not be surprised if the PCB finds various means to sell portions of the restricted space to Indian companies as well.