10th February, 2015

Getting a kick out of it

Consider XLR8, owned by the Dubai-based Santosh Shetty's Expat Leisure and Resorts, which is leveraging its large land banks in India. Its Bangalore facility is spread over five acres, and has provision for 14 different sports within its huge warehouse-like shell in Hennur. The sports facilities on offer include basketball, net cricket, volley ball, handball or wall climbing and an outdoor swimming pool. One can pay by the hour or sign up for an annual membership. "We have also had fortnightly open football tournaments for students for 142 fortnights continuously, with 18 nationalities participating," says the amiable Taher Ali Khan, a level three national football coach and centre manager. This year, 98 teams participated at its annual Indoor Corporate Olympics.

Khan says while no market research went into the setting up of XLR8, the company was initially keen on doing indoor cricket, drawing on its experience of cricket's "massive appeal" in Dubai. But although Indians are a cricket-crazy nation, there were few takers for the pay-and-play idea. Instead, football turned out to be a serious money spinner. Not just for XLR8 but others like Powerplay, Five Aside and Kicks on Grass too.

Other sports are also finding takers. "That's why XLR8 is opening in several cities - Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram and a second one in Bangalore. The Thiruvananthapuram centre will be a lavish one, spread across 60-odd acres and will include a full-fledged international cricket stadium, eight tennis courts, a golf course and swimming pools. Hyderabad is smaller at 24 acres with two outdoor cricket stadia, three football fields, six indoor courts and eight badminton courts. The Pune XLR8 is housed within a mall, a kilometre from the airport.

The hourly charges can average about Rs 1,200 for a football team or a nets practice which, divided among the team members, works out to Rs 100 per head - eminently affordable for a generation that often spends more than that on a cup of coffee.

In cities where land availability is a constraint, similar facilities exist but as part of a mall or office complex. And the hourly price, says Chaudhary, who plays in Mumbai with his brother, is about 1.5-2 times that of Bangalore's sports facilities.

Source: Telegraph India
For more information visit: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1141207/jsp/7days/story_2408.jsp

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