Pune and Kochi were the chosen cities for the 2 new IPL teams to be added to the existing eight from the next season in 2011. The entire bidding process was earlier cancelled and bids were re-invited and winners were declared today in a much hyped press conference in Chennai.
When the bids were yet to be opened, cities like Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Nagpur, Pune, Vizag, Indore, Kochi etc. were in the fray and it was learnt that 5 proper bids were received. It was widely thought that bids from Videocon group, Sahara Group, Adani group etc. would be the winners and most people expected Ahmedabad and perhaps Pune to be the host cities of the new franchises.
Sahara Group turned out to be the highest bidder with 370 Million $ and they chose Pune as their host city. The next highest bidder was a consortium of 5 companies named Rendezvous Sports World who bid 333.33 million $ for the franchise to be hosted in Kochi. The other bidders bid close to 320 million $ each but of course only 2 teams were to be chosen and they lost out. The losers included Videocon group, Adani Group etc.
Sahara Group opting for Pune over Ahmedabad and Nagpur was perhaps more a business decision than a cricketing decision. Pune being a city on par with Ahmedabad in most ways is almost a twin city of Mumbai, who already have a powerful franchise in Mumbai Indians, thus their cricketing catchment area would most certainly overlap. In Ahmedabad you had a huge catchment area comprising of 3 Ranji teams of Gujarat, Baroda and Saurashtra, waiting to be tapped. Sahara surely had other reasons to select Pune over Ahmedabad.
Kochi was a complete surprise, even for the IPL head honcho Lalit Modi himself. Post the announcement he struggled to name the winning group and its leading person and later when asked about who the actual owners were of the team, had to refer to his notes and finally had to take help of the winning team head to declare who actually the owners were. It turned out that owners of Rendezvous Sports World are a group of builders, real estate developers based in Kerala. Kochi at present, does not even have a proper cricket stadium and uses a football stadium to host international matches, however the real estate developers in the winning team would certainly be licking their lips at the thought of building a brand new stadium.
Ahmedabad is perhaps unlucky to lose out on a lucrative offer of hosting an IPL franchise. The 2 new franchises gave the IPL an amount close to Rs. 3200 crores which is more than selling of previous 8 franchises put togather, Rs. 2,800 crores. Lalit Modi announced that there would be no further expansion of IPL, atleast in near future. But with the kind of money available and the interest shown by leading coroporate houses in hosting an IPL franchise one can never say, never to the idea of more teams say in 3 years time. Ahmedabad can perhaps try their luck that time.
Any guesses for the names of the 2 new teams. My guesses would be Pune Panthers and Kochi Cobras.