Full house at eateries, theatres for India-Pakistan match

Live screenings of the India-Pakistan cricket clash on Sunday at the ICC men’s T20 World Cup, the first big sporting event after the full reopening of bars, restaurants, clubs and theatres, are either sold out or rapidly getting booked up at a majority of locations, executives said.

“This is a clash awaited by a quarter of the world’s population,” said Rahul Singh, promoter of Beer Cafe, which operates more than 30 outlets across the country. “Going by the bookings, this looks set to translate into a mega consumption event for F&B.”

The Maharashtra government had announced earlier this week that restaurants and eateries can remain open till midnight. Maharashtra is among the biggest markets for cinema halls and dining out. Curbs in other large markets such as Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Punjab and Chennai had been lifted earlier.

PVR chief executive Gautam Dutta said the theatre chain is screening the match live at over 75 cinema screens in more than 35 cities, with a “stadium ambience,” including cheer girls and staff in sports gear. The response has been overwhelming, according to him.

Viewers Showing Strong Interest

“The live match screenings at our cinemas in Maharashtra coincide with the state reopening its cinemas. For Sunday’s match, 80% tickets of allotted seats have already been booked,” Dutta said.

PVR, which is screening World Cup matches featuring India, the semi-finals and finals, is expecting the same traction in other markets like Delhi over the next two days.

India’s first match in the tournament is against Pakistan. It has prompted scattered calls for a boycott owing to the heightened tension between the two nations.

Industry executives said the sporting clash between the two rivals will set the tone for festive season entertainment.

“The match is sold out at bars we are running the screenings on,” said Priyank Sukhija, promoter of First Fiddle F&B, which operates brands such as Lord of the Drinks and Warehouse. “And this is not just about pent-up demand, though it is a contributing factor in people wanting to move out of homes for entertainment. Even pre-Covid, all India-Pakistan live one-day match screenings have been sold out.”

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First Fiddle is holding live screenings at about 15 of its outlets in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Inox Leisure, which is screening the match in 25 cities and 50 screens, said it’s equipped to increase this number, depending on demand.

“We have received phenomenal response at all the locations where we have opened the bookings, including interest from corporate group bookings,” said Anand Vishal, chief sales and revenue officer, Inox Leisure. “With cricket being followed in every nook and corner of the country, the response has been alike in both metros as well as non-metros.”

Five-star hotel chains have also joined the bandwagon. Through online travel company Booking.com, Grand Hyatt, Mumbai, is offering cricket-themed luxury suites for the India-Pakistan match, with packages selling at a premium. BookMyShow is also selling tickets for drive-in live screenings at sports clubs and smaller hotels and cafes are offering “match menus”.

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