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Indian Premier League

KKR CEO plays up role of technology in post-Covid cricket

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Even as IPL 13 remains under a cloud as India continues to be in lockdown, Kolkata Knight Riders chief executive officer Venky Mysore is already reimagining what the tournament would look like, should it take place later this year, once the impact of the pandemic has subsided.

Mysore acknowledged that cricket won’t return to packed stadiums immediately, and to make up for that, he spoke of technological innovations, including the installation of LED walls and the simulation of a live crowd within an empty stadium.

Speaking on ESPNcricinfo’s Stump Mic podcast, Mysore said that with gate revenue taking a hit, inviting sponsors would be a challenge.

“We’re definitely going to have some challenges,” Mysore said. “If we’re lucky enough that things will settle down, or the tournament will take place later this year, it’s clearly going to be in what they’ll call as a stadium lockdown mode, which means straightaway the ticket revenues are affected, your food and beverage revenue is affected, the merchandising sales at the stadium is affected. The challenge to us is how do you activate the sponsors? Are there ways in which you can compensate for this?”

In finding that solution, Mysore hinted at drawing from the American model of recreating crowd noise on high-resolution speakers. “Technology is going to play a massive role,” Mysore said. “I am just saying, if you’re thinking out of the box – an LED wall in the stands, where, through social media, [fans] can virtually be present there. There are people who’ll be reacting the same way if they were physically at the ground. People have said something about simulation too.

“I lived in the US for several years and became an American football fan. Home games and away games are big events there, because the crowd becomes your twelfth man. So what visiting teams used to do when they practised was blast the crowd noise on the speakers, just to get used it. The noise can be deafening in matches.”

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