Fans, don't believe the cheaper Rhino

Ranchi is embracing the maiden edition of ongoing Hockey India League (HIL) with full vigour, but misleading advertisements on ticket prices may bust the fan bubble and raise fears of financial bungling.

Ranchi Rhinos ran half-page advertisements on Tuesday in a section of the vernacular media on slashed ticket price slabs for matches on January 23 and 24 in what appears to be not just a misleading, but a mysterious communication.

According to the ad, ticket prices now range between Rs 50 and Rs 400. It also announced that tickets were being sold and promised Bollywood entertainment on both match days. Old price slabs were between Rs 60 and Rs 1,200, with special passes costing Rs 2,000. The slashed-prices, hence, were supposedly value for money.

But when The Telegraph contacted Ranchi Rhinos media manager and the CEO, different versions were obtained.

Media manager Sunil Goenka initially said ticket prices had been trimmed. "Yes, price points of few denominations of tickets were cut. The Rs 60 ticket now comes for Rs 50, the Rs 120 one at Rs 90." He quickly added: "But, it is better to speak to the owners directly."

Franchisee CEO Bunty Singh, when asked, he was not aware of any such announcement in the Ranchi Rhinos ads and denied any price cut.

"I don't know about ads but our prices haven't changed. We have tickets costing Rs 60, Rs 90, Rs 120, Rs 180 and Rs 1,200. Special passes come for Rs 2,000. These remain unchanged," he said, adding he would probe into who ran the advertisements.

When a public advertisement says one thing and the company top brass another, fans bear the brunt. "I can't afford Rs 1,200 tickets. But when I saw the premium ticket came for Rs 400, I decided to catch tomorrow's match at 8pm. We were in for a rude shock at the counter," said Sunil Singh, hockey fan and Kokar resident.

HIL tickets are being sold from four counters of astroturf stadium in Morabadi, Caf� Coffee Day outlets and online via www.bookmyshow.com.

Though the CEO said he would look into the matter of the ads, it is also a warning for the fledgling franchisee to get its internal policies and corporate communications in order.

Ranchi Rhinos has the potential to grow big within the HIL format and help the game. In Ranchi, the first match on January 18 between home team and Mumbai Magicians saw a packed house of 5,500. The houseful trend is likely on January 23 and 24 as Ranchi takes on Delhi and Mumbai.

As the franchisee grows, money will flow from endorsements and merchandising. Misleading ads will dent the credibility of Ranchi Rhinos.

Meanwhile, the team has a tough one on Wednesday. It will play Delhi Waveriders, currently at the top of the table with 17 points. Uttar Pradesh Wizards have 12, followed by Ranchi Rhinos with 11, Punjab Warriors 8 and Mumbai Magicians tailing with 4.

Bollywood stars Zarine Khan and Meiyang Chang are likely to arrive on Wednesday and Thursday.

Did you face any problem while buying hockey tickets?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com

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