Sparse attendance at the 2023 ICC World Cup opener between England and New Zealand in Ahmedabad.
Various factors, including a non-Indian match on a weekday, warm weather, and ticket sale delays, might have contributed to the low turnout.
Critics question BCCI’s planning and venue selection, suggesting more historically relevant stadiums like Wankhede or Eden Gardens.
Fans compare the opening match of 2023 with previous opening matches of the World Cup.
The 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup had a less than stellar opening in terms of stadium attendance, with numerous empty seats at the Narendra Modi Stadium during the kickoff match between England and New Zealand.
Earlier, fans were angry at the ridiculous conditions of the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on the warm-up match day. Not only the stadiums were empty, the seats were covered with bird poo and wrappers.
Cricket fans worldwide were shocked to witness a nearly vacant Narendra Modi Stadium – the world’s largest cricket arena boasting a seating capacity of 132,000 – during the England vs. New Zealand game.
With Jonny Bairstow facing Trent Boult’s opening ball before a sparse audience, questions arose about India’s renowned passion for the sport.
Sunil Gavaskar on Star Sports:
"I am ashamed to call myself Indian. This is the worst Cricket World Cup. Empty stadiums, no scoreboard, pathetic management from BCCI."
Despite low ticket costs (Rs 1,000 or $12) and offers of free tickets, images and videos from the event showed an unsettlingly deserted scene. Critics of X, previously known as Twitter, quickly expressed their dissatisfaction.
“Empty stadium at #ICCcricketworldcup2023’s opening match #ENGvsNZ disappoints fans. This is despite giving out 40,000 free tickets to Ahmedabad women for match 1.”
Several reasons are being cited for the low attendance:
Non-Indian Match on a Weekday
According to AlJazeera, the game didn’t feature the host nation and was played mid-week; not many fans might have been inclined to travel for the game. These two factors play a major role as the host nation has to play in the opening game, and the audience is expected to be low on a working day.
“Host should always open the WC. Finalists can play the following day.”
The temperatures in Ahmedabad, hovering around 34-35°C, might have discouraged potential attendees. Also, rain was expected before the match, and humidity was expected throughout.
Ticket Sales Delay
The delay in the World Cup ticket sales, resulting from the ICC’s extended confirmation of the final schedule, had previously drawn criticism. But for the fact that 40,000 tickets were sold for free to the women, it reportedly still does not make a difference!
Observers wrote: Maybe it wouldn’t have been this embarrassing if you hadn’t started ticket sales at the last minute, repulsing fans who wanted to travel from NZ/ENG, hoarding tickets, and then giving them away for free as a way to save face at the last minute.
Maybe it wouldn't have been this embarassing if you hadn't started ticket sales at the last minute repulsing fans who wanted to travel from NZ/ENG, hoarding tickets and then giving them away for free as a way to save face at the last minute.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) faced significant backlash from netizens, who criticized their choice of venue and poor planning. Many felt that iconic venues like Wankhede or Eden Gardens would have drawn larger crowds given their historic relevance to the sport.
One critic voiced their frustration, stating,
“Kolkata or Mumbai would have been a better choice for the World Cup opening match.”
Opening ceremony canceled, scheduled changed numerous times, ticketing issues, visa delays for participating team, warm up to be played behind closed doors due to security, completely empty stadium in the opening match, is India really the right venue to be hosting global event?
This guy first ruined the whole Asia Cup for political purposes, and now there is no crowd, no opening ceremony, and no proper arrangement for the biggest cricketing event in the world. Disappointing for all the cricket fans in the world#ICCCricketWorldCup#ENGvsNZpic.twitter.com/iYZVZhEh88