Karnataka Premier League (KPL) 2018 saw a new addition to the tournament as Bijapur Bulls decided to set up fan parks to attract cricket lovers in big numbers. Although rain played spoilsport on a couple of occasions, the first ever fan park in KPL was a success as per the organisers.
Electrifying atmosphere, stadium-like feeling, giant screen and live sports – these are the things that together make fan parks of many big leagues and important tournaments all around the world an attraction for many. People gather in big numbers to watch the matches live on the giant screens set up at the fan parks and enjoy food, entertainment and an atmosphere of a flea market.
Indian Premier League (IPL) started organizing fan parks in the year 2015 during the eighth edition. A total of 15 cities were identified all across the country for the first time in IPL history and over 1.5 lakh people enthusiastically watched matches live on giant screen and cheered for their respective teams. The idea of fan park was put forward by the then Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) secretary Brijesh Patel during the venue managers’ conclave in Mumbai on March 11, 2015 and it turned out to be a big addition to IPL and its widespread popularity. In the 11th edition this year, the fan parks were organised in 36 Indian cities.
With a view of keeping people amazed and entertained during their matches, Bijapur Bulls came up with the idea of organizing first ever fan park in local cricket. KPL being a tournament where players from one state participate and play against each other, there comes a sense of pride for one’s own district or locality. To captivate the same feeling among the cricket lovers of Bijapur, the franchise decided to start a fan park from the current season of the league.
“We have developed huge fan parks this year. We have many people who lack TV in their homes. There was a huge religion like gathering. Entertainment programmes like Dandiya, stalls and cultural shops, art exhibition etc are also organised along with the live telecast of our matches,” owner of Bijapur Bulls Kiran Kattimani informed SportsCafe.
The franchise had scheduled the dates of August 22, August 24 and August 26 for the fan parks in their own city – Bijapur. But the match against Bengaluru Blasters on 22nd was abandoned while the one on 24th was rescheduled because of rain in Hubli where both the games were scheduled to be played. But the fan park was a big crowd puller on August 26 during the thrilling game between Bijapur and Bellary Tuskers. The Tuskers were beaten by the Bulls in a game which went all down to the wire and the organisers were quite satisfied with the turnout at the fan park which was set up at Darbar High School Ground.
Bijapur Bulls’ event manager, Abhishek Meghraj said, “It was completely an open ground in Bijapur and just beside the main road. So people passing by, stopped seeing the giant screen and took a look on what was happening. There was a moving crowd but at one time there were approximately more than 400 people enjoying the fan park.”
The organizers had set up an 8X10 digital LED giant screen with a superior sound system along with a stage with the hoardings and banners of the franchise and its players participating in the tournament. Seating arrangements were done for more than 500 fans at the venue of the fan park. Fans had a fantastic time and with 26th being a Sunday it became a super Sunday for the people at the fan park as their own team won a nail-biting game against the Tuskers.
“It was nothing different than watching the game live in a stadium, we felt as if we were sitting in the gallery and cheering for Bijapur,” said one of the fans of the franchise.
The concept of the fan park during big tournaments is certainly growing from strength to strength. Not only IPL, many Indian cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru have seen fan parks during the English Premier League (EPL) matches as well. Kolkata even hosted fan parks back in 2014 during the FIFA world cup. But with this new addition of fan park in local cricket, the popularity of raw talents and local teams will certainly rise and this will bring a whole new name and fame to the state-based franchise cricket like KPL.
Note: “This article was originally published in Sportscafe.in – the offical media partner of Bijapur Bulls for KPL 2018)