The fallout of Team India’s premature exit was clearly evident across the fan park at the Kalinga Stadium here on Tuesday, barely 48 hours after the hosts lost 4-5 to New Zealand via the shootout in the Crossover clash on Sunday.
The tournament’s organisers have done a wonderful job of the fan park which is filled with food, entertainment stalls and activities for spectators across all ages. There are also a few stalls selling sports equipment like jerseys and hockey sticks. While the food stalls continue to do brisk business, considering most tickets for the India matches were sold out long back, meaning the crowds will come to the venue anyway, the sports shops are experiencing much lesser footfalls.
Saket Mahajan, owner of the SNS hockey brand, at his stall at the Kalinga Stadium fan park in Bhubaneswar. Pic/Ashwin Ferro
The Shiv Naresh stall that was teeming with customers over the weekend has witnessed a mere trickle over the last few days. “We sold nearly 500 jerseys [priced at Rs 900 each] across Saturday and Sunday, but in the last two days, we’ve not even sold 200. People are obviously disappointed with the Indian team losing so early in the tournament and that reflects in their lack of interest in buying Indian hockey merchandise,” MK Sharma, manager of the Shiv Naresh stall, told mid-day.
A few stalls away is the SNS outlet that has been selling hockey sticks at a 50 per cent discount. They too have seen a massive reduction in customers since Monday. “The drop in footfalls from Sunday to Monday-Tuesday has been at least 50 per cent. In fact, over the weekend, such was the demand for our goods that after we closed up and packed our sticks back into the cartons post 10pm, some customers walked in and we had to re-open the boxes for them,” said Saket Mahajan, who owns the SNS brand which is endorsed by some India players like forward Lalit Upadhyay and midfielder Nilakanta Sharma.
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Sharma is now contemplating reducing the prices of jerseys to attract more customers. “I will be speaking to the owners to see if they can reduce the prices. That will ensure better business,” he said. Mahajan, however, offered a rational view of the situation: “Winning and losing is part of sport and just as we make good profits when the Indian team do well, we must stand by our team during their tough times too.”
Originally published at www.mid-day.com