Friday, May 16, 2008


The big fat IPL format has made the dull months of April and May boom time in Calcutta. With the shortest form of cricket gaining in popularity, cash tills are ringing all over — hotels, malls, restaurants and retail stores.

"Traditionally, April-May are lean months for the hospitality industry. Last year, there was 85 per cent room occupancy around this time, but this year we are full up," said a spokesperson for ITC Sonar Calcutta.

With the teams and celebrity guests pushing up the occupancy rates, the average room rate has gone up at the Bypass hotel, the spokesperson added.

The Park, hosting the commentators, has also witnessed a 15 to 20 per cent rise in occupancy in the past month and is expecting to improve on the performance once the Mohali team checks in later this month.

The benefits of excitement around T20 matches have trickled down below the star hotels.

If Sanjeev Bhargava of Trade Links is busy meeting the demand for luxury cars — he has supplied Shah Rukh Khan's Mercedes — the New Market hawker selling Kolkata Knight Riders T-shirts is finding it difficult to meet the demand. "The T-shirts are selling like hot cakes… People are buying them before going to Eden Gardens," said the middle-aged man selling the black-and-gold T-shirts at anything between Rs 75 and Rs 150.

The expensive variants — Reebok's KKR jerseys at Rs 1,699 — are also flying off the shelves. "Our biggest challenge now is to meet the demand. We are taking bookings in advance. Shah Rukh's No. 12 jersey is the biggest sell-out," says Reebok India managing director Subhinder Singh Prem.

With the home team bouncing back with two consecutive wins, the next leg of the IPL promises to be more exciting. To cash in on the craze, malls have put up giant screens and restaurants are coming up with attractive offers.

"At the lounge, we definitely see an upsurge the days the Calcutta team is playing. It is like a festival and the footfall increases by 35 per cent," said Ashim Mewar, the restaurant director of Red Kitchen and Lounge.

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