The Sree Kanteerava Stadium has been in existence for more than half a century now. It has been the venue for athletics and football. It also included a unique cycling velodrome. But thanks to some great planners, it was demolished as the stadium was restructured for the National Games in 1996-97.
All state sports bodies, with headquarters in the city, function out of government premises. If they have built their own offices, the land on which it is situated belongs to the government. The exception is cricket with the KSCA functioning on land which the Army claims belongs to it and is the subject of a legal dispute.
While most associations have utilised these premises for commercial exploitation, some have been denied this opportunity and consequently have been entirely dependent on the state government for their financial requirements. That they have obtained permission is a different issue. The point is many don't have the chance to even seek such permission as they don't have a premises which they can call their own.
The Karnataka State Football Association has leased out two corner plots to the Rahejas for a measly sum of Rs 1 crore and a lease period of 88 years. Rahejas are probably earning Rs 1 crore every week or month for long now. There is a fresh proposal to hand over the stadium land to Jindal Steel Works. The FIFA Academy is also to be leased out to them. Public land, private benefit. The BDFA has no place for its own activities now.
The Karnataka State Hockey Association has a stadium built by the state government itself. They have a club house too. So too the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association. The swimming association functions from the Corporation Pool in Basavangudi. Billiards and snooker have venues which they rent out for marriages. They also have a club house and lodging facility. So too badminton.
When the state government has allowed these associations to carry on activities and benefit from the land leased out to them, why is the same government not extending the facility to associations like athletics, basketball, table tennis and volleyball?
The Sree Kanteerava Stadium has been the Karnataka Athletics Association's headquarters since its cinder track days. Why should it not be leased out to the KAA? Making use of it for commercial purposes can only be possible after necessary clearances and the state government will always be in control. The indoor stadium can be jointly leased out to basketball, table tennis and volleyball associations. If the government can rent it out for exhibitions, why should the basketball, table tennis and volleyball associations not have control over the stadium and benefit from it under the supervision of the state government?
The indoor stadium in Koramangala can be leased out to boxing, judo and other associations who could come together.
The Sports Authority of Karnataka was created after 1996-97 only to manage the infrastructure. It has only resulted in state government officials indulging in harassment of sports officialdom. In cases where both are hand in glove, there is no problem. But politics creeps in and problems crop up.
Creation of infrastructure for the benefit of citizens' is the state government's duty. But utilising them is prerogative of the state associations as long as they serve the people's interests at large. It's time the state associations, which have been denied and deprived of the facilities that have been extended to others, come together and urge the government to work out measures to aid their cause.