New Delhi:Business conglomerate Sahara bagged Pune while little known consortium Rendezvous Sports World Limited clinched Kochi as the Indian Premier League on Sunday unveiled two new teams joining the cash-awash Twenty20 league from the 2011 season.
IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi said Sahara Adventure Sports Group made an identical USD 370 million bid for three cities -- Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Pune.
"They made the highest bid for all three cities and were asked to chose one of the cities. Accordingly, Pune will be their home ground," Modi told reporters.
Rendezvous made the second highest bid on Sunday and their offer of USD 333.33 million was enough to land the Kochi franchise, Modi said.
"In all, five groups qualified for the bid. The bidding was extremely competitive and I hope they make good business," Modi said.
Interestingly, these two new franchises were sold for an amount which, when combined, is bigger than the worth of the original eight franchises put together.
Apart from the two successful bidders, other groups which took part in the bidding were Adani Groups, VC Digital Solution (Videocon) and a Pune consortium.
Sahara's bid for Pune was way better than what the Adani group (USD 315 million) or the Pune consortium (USD 261.3 million) had to offer.
Modi dismissed speculation that Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor had financial interest in the bid for Kochi franchise and said the minister's role was confined to "facilitating" the bid.
"Mr Tharoor was involved in facilitating and trying to get a team from Kochi to bid. He is an ardent fan of the game who wanted a team from Kochi and his role ends there," Modi said.
The cities in the fray were Pune, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Kanpur, Dharamsala, Vizag, Rajkot, Cuttack, Baroda, Kochi, Indore and Gwalior.
The Videocon group apparently had the backing of Bollywood superstars Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor but they failed to bag a team.
The minimum base price of the franchises for the next 10 years was USD 225 million.
From 2011, IPL will become a 10-team league featuring 94 games.
Modi, meanwhile, made it clear that there was no plan to have a second IPL abroad.
"I'm always misquoted by the media. There will be only one Indian Premier League played in India.
"Please don't speculate. Yes, some of the IPL teams will play exhibition matches all over the world but no IPL in abroad," he said.
Modi also ruled out IPL's further expansion in immediate future even though he was little ambiguous about it.
"We have no plans to expand further immediately. We have 10 teams now and we will go ahead with 10. I don't foresee an expansion in many, many years to come but then you never know," he said.
The bidding process was scheduled to be completed by March 7 but got postponed after the bidders objected to stiff financial guidelines which were eventually relaxed.
Modi said since Kerala Cricket Association is yet to complete their stadium, IPL would provide the new franchise an alternative venue.
"Kerala Cricket Association are in the process of building the infrastructure and as and when the stadium is ready teams will play there. But till the structures are ready, the IPL will provide them with alternate venue and that can be anywhere in India," Modi said.
Meanwhile elated after bagging Pune, Sahara spokesman Abhijit Sarkar said it was a matter of great pride for the company, which has been the Team India sponsor for a long time.
"Sahara is the biggest patron of sports in the country and we have been associated with the BCCI family for the last 15 years. So when we came to know about this proposition of cricket with business, we bid for IPL," he said.
"We considered the logistics and infrastructure of the cities. It is a thing of great pride for us that now we are a part of IPL family," Sarkar added.
A Rendezvous representative also expressed happiness after landing the Kochi team and said, "We are very happy to note that we have been successful in today's bidding and having the Kerala franchise. We are thankful to Lalit Modi for giving us this opportunity."
Modi also expressed hopes that the Pakistani players, who were shunned in this year's IPL auction, would feature in the Twenty20 league again.
"We hope the Pakistani players are allowed but this will be decided at the auction time during September-October," Modi said.
Modi was particularly pleased with the fact that IPL proved recession-proof.
"All of you have said that there is a recession going on but as far as IPL is concerned there is no recession at all. We will continue to be on upward trend.
He also shared that the bidding of eight original IPL teams realised a total value of at Rs 2,840 crores while Sunday's bidding for two new teams are combined worth of Rs 3,235.53 crores.
On the presence of Bollywood actors Salman Khan, Saif Khan and Katrina Kaif in the bid meeting, Modi said, "I do not know which group they were representating. I have only the winning bidders. They were part of the other consortium that lost in bid process," Modi said.