Gangtok: Hundreds of miles away from live action, cricket fans in Gangtok got a unique experience of a stadium-like atmosphere when the Guards Ground in Tathangchen turned into an Indian Premier League (IPL) Fan Park over the weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
Four IPL matches were shown live on a giant screen at the Guards Ground where fans were allowed free entry from 3 pm onwards on both the days. Many other events, including music performances and contests, were lined up to add to the fun quotient.
Spectators had their faces painted in the colours of their favourite IPL teams and held aloft banners that were distributed to them for free. The organisers had also set up washrooms and a separate kids’ zone for the two-day event.
The VIVO IPL Fan Park was set up for the first time in Sikkim. The event hosted by the Sikkim Cricket Association (SICA) in collaboration with DNA Entertainment Networks, a Bengaluru-headquartered event management company.
“This (Fan Park) has come at a right time. It will help popularise the sport in Sikkim. Hope the event will inspire many youngsters to take cricket as a sport. Even if only 20% get inspired, it will be a huge victory for us,” said SICA general secretary Sonam Palden Bhutia.
IPL Fan Parks were first launched in 2015 to create stadium-like atmosphere for fans in cities which were not hosting IPL matches. Gangtok is the latest city which will experience Fan Park. The organisers were hopeful that the event would draw good footfall, despite the weather playing spoilsport in between.
“It’s a start for us, and even though the opening day did not attract as many fans as we would have liked to host, the footfall did increase on the second day as the fans got to know about the event,” said an organiser.
The SICA wants to take such events as a stepping stone for the development of cricket in Sikkim. “The BCCI was apprehensive at first but after realizing our potential they have offered us this huge opportunity. We hope that a large number of cricket lovers will turn out and make the event a success,” said Sonam Palden.
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