Sports — PPPs New Playfield
The PPP is a win-win for the Gujarat government, which did not have to sanction any money for the project
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A country’s growth is also judged by its performance in sports. The medal tally at the Olympics is, to an extent, a measure of a country’s “economic health”. Countries with stable economies also have stable sports calendars which could vary in terms of activities.
Growth of sports, like industry, however, is dependent on modern and sustainable infrastructure. In India, this remained a challenge until the 1982 Asian Games and the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which required creation of world-class sporting arenas and facilities. Host city Delhi got a makeover twice, with new roads and flyovers. The 2010 Games was expected to change the sports scenario in the country and along with it the ‘business of sports’.
Change manifested in various stakeholders associated with sports raising their voices. Not just in strong sports committees that came to be set up by the various chambers of commerce, but at numerous symposiums, round tables, exhibitions and international tours. The underlying effort was to get decision makers to view sports as an industry, but with little success.
The interest of corporate houses and celebrities has created a demand for world-class events in our country and to host such events we need world-class infrastructure which was never created by government agencies even after enough money was spent in its name. It was this scenario that probably gave rise to the need for public-private-partnership (PPP) for creating sport facilities.
In a first, a PPP between the Gujarat government and SE TransStadia (SETS), a Setco group company, has given the country a seven-story, 25,000 capacity multipurpose football stadium called the Arena in the heart of Ahmedabad. A Design, Built, Finance, Own, Operate and Transfer (DBFOOT) project, the facility can be converted into an indoor arena within minutes. The Arena also houses four tennis courts; an indoor swimming pool; squash, badminton, volleyball and table tennis facilities; a Sports Science Centre; a gym; three fitness studios and a spa besides retail and commercial spaces. The Arena can also double up as a venue for hosting concerts, film screening, and conferences, etc.
During CWG 2010, the main venue, the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex, was renovated at a cost of Rs 961 crore, without considering its use for 365 days. In comparison, barely six years after CWG, SETS spent Rs 536 crore to build the Arena which can be used throughout the year.
The PPP is a win-win for the Gujarat government, which did not have to sanction any money for the project. The deal also requires SETS to spend 2 per cent of its topline for developing the infrastructure for grassroots players. Moreover, the project will not only attract events which in turn will generate revenue but also generate employment for the people of the state.
This PPP project is noteworthy for other reasons. According to Udit Sheth, MD of SETS, the facility was constructed in just 31 months from the time the government gave them possession of the land. The investment has 2:1 debt equity ratio with financial institutions with a break even plan of 15 years. The facility will have academies and a club for people of the city.
This project is not the end but beginning of PPPs in sports and to me the most logical solution for creating sports infrastructure in the country. This project can be a case study for not only state governments but for educational institutions too.
The author is founder & MD, HTC Sports
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