Sixes looks to fans for success
Strong fan support this weekend would have a critical impact on the success and the future of the new-look Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes, a top official said yesterday.
'Whether we end up making a profit, or in the red, will depend on how many fans turn up and buy their tickets at the gate,' said Shahzada Saleem, president of the Hong Kong Cricket Association.
'Right now we are at break-even point as far as our costs and revenue are concerned, and the future course the tournament takes will depend on how much support we get from the public.'
Ticket sales have been slow for the tournament which has been expanded to three days and 12 teams and features such legendary all-rounders as Pakistan's Shahid Afridi and Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya. Last year's event, which saw most of the Saturday matches washed out by rain, finished marginally in the red.
However, the organisers now say the onus of turning a profit is on the fans - and they will decide the future shape of the Hong Kong Sixes.
'It is up to the fans to decide now. We have done everything we can by opening a new chapter for the Sixes this year by making it a 12-team tournament and going one extra day. Whether we continue to do this, or go back to the older format will depend on the success of this weekend,' Saleem (pictured) said.
The cost of staging the tournament has risen from about HK$7 million to HK$10 million owing to the extra teams and extended play. Ireland, Scotland and Bangladesh are the three new teams this year and will join defending champions Australia, England, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand, the All Stars and Hong Kong.
Revenue so far has flowed in from the government's Mega Events Fund (HK$3.5 million), title sponsors Karp Group (about HK$2 million), the sale of 26 corporate boxes (HK$2 million), ticket sales of HK$1.3 million based on sales over the past two years), and other sponsors (HK$1 million).
Every other aspect of revenue-earning has been maximised by the association, including the sale of the 26 boxes - the last three of which were finalised on Tuesday night.
Over the past two years, only 60 to 65 per cent of the available public tickets has been sold.
This time, organisers have increased the capacity at the Kowloon Cricket Club to allow 3,000 public seats - 500 more than last year. In addition, the price of tickets has risen from HK$750 to HK$800 for a weekend package. Tickets for tomorrow, when for the first time an international Twenty20 game will be played on local soil, are priced at HK$100.
The Woodworm All Stars featuring Sri Lankan legend Jayasuriya and former Pakistan captain Afridi, will take on a Rest of the World side led by Pakistani all-rounder Abdul Razzaq in the Twenty20 game which ends the opening day tomorrow.
If this experiment is successful, it could be included in future Sixes tournaments. The HKCA is also considering a separate Twenty20 competition at another time of the year.
'We want to gauge the public's interest. I hope they will come out and support us,' Saleem added.