For the last 9 years, I have never missed attending at least one match at the Chennai Open. It’s the biggest ATP tournament in India and for guys like me, its probably the only opportunity to watch the World’s best in flesh. Think Rafael Nadal and Carlos Moya. It’s been an absolute must on my annual calendar.
Sadly, this year I can’t watch a single match. Why? Because of a board outside the Nungambakkam stadium that reads, “All tickets for all matches sold out”. Heck, even the advertisement in The Hindu today carried those dreaded words.
Yet, you watch the matches on TV, and at least 50% of the seats are empty. I saw many fans lining up outside the stadium turn back disappointed. Let’s forget the fans for a moment. The half-empty stands look ugly on TV. That’s hardly reflective of the kind of interest that Chennaites have for the game. It in fact reflects bad on the tournament organizers. Wouldn’t the players like to play to a packed audience?
Apparently, most seats have been given away to sponsors, the Tamilnadu Tennis Association and definitely to a whole host of politicians…who either don’t have an active interest in the game or too busy to attend the events.
This year has been the worst in the last 9 years I’ve known. In the previous years, you could walk to the ticket counter and atleast find a few tickets available (except for the finals or the big matches). But this year, its been a total wipe out for folks who just want to watch the match that day.
I regret not buying the season ticket on the day it launched. It was going for only Rs.1500 for all days. A steal, actually. I’m kicking myself now.
It feels a little odd to watch the match on TV, when the real action is actually taking place less than 5 kms away.