Vodafone Eden Gardens or Reliance Eden Gardens?

Yash Agarwal / 17 December 2015

Considered as the Mecca of Indian cricket, the Eden Gardens stadium could be expected to be renamed to either Vodafone Eden Gardens or Reliance Eden Gardens if the board decides to join hands with these telecom corporate giants for a sponsorship deal, which was proposed by Dada, Sourav Ganguly.

A CAB official said former India skipper Ganguly broached the topic during a meeting with the core committee on Tuesday.

“Ganguly floated the proposal yesterday and told us that interest has been shown by companies like Vodafone and Reliance to tie up with the stadium and have their name attached to that of the Eden Gardens. While the two companies have made their interest known, we won’t be surprised if other companies too are keen on such an association,” the official said. “A meeting has been called with the various affiliates of the CAB on Friday where Ganguly will discuss the idea with them. They will be taken into confidence before taking the matter forward.

It is believed that the deal could fill CAB’s coffers by around ` 10- 15 crore,” he added.

Eden Gardens holds great sentimental value in the eyes of cricketing fans. The Mecca of Indian cricket has held many famous matches in the past and the fans relate quite a lot it. Asked about those sentimental beliefs of fans when the name of the stadium collaborates with a sponsor just for said amount of money, the official said, “If one looks at it, even The Oval was rechristened as The Kia Oval after Surrey signed a sponsorship deal.

So, it isn’t the first time such a proposal has been floated. But it is true that Eden has a special place in the hearts of Indians and more than anything, it has a heritage value. So, we need to be very cautious before taking any step.”

He pointed it out that there is another stadium in India who supports commercial branding, which is the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium. “Apart from the stadium in Pune, we don’t have any stadium in India which has a corporate branding tagged to its name,” he added.

Not to forget, the public was in a huge disarray when The Oval was given its sponsored name, The Kia Oval, back in 2011.

A different angle to the story was brought into play when another official correctly pointed it out that the Eden Gardens was not a property of CAB but belonged to the Indian Army. “We have to realise that the Eden Gardens isn’t the property of the CAB. It is all good to make lofty plans, but one has to understand that one can’t enter into sponsorship deals with a third party when the property in question is given to you on the lease.

“Had this been CAB’s property, the association had every right to rope in anyone for financial benefits. But in this case, it is not possible and we will definitely bring the matter up at the right time. Under no circumstance can one go ahead and do this with an iconic stadium,” he further said. When asked if permission had to be taken from the BCCI for such a deal, the official said: “No, the BCCI isn’t involved in such matters.”

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