Pay as you play at Kochi’s latest sports venues

The idea is to make sports accessible to all.

Anoop Menon Published :  27th October 2017 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  27th October 2017 06:00 AM

Jogo Football Arena

Decrepit parking lots and neglected pieces of land are now coming under the floodlight, literally. In the last six months alone, the city has seen over eight new high-end sports arenas open up. These spots—some of which stay open from the break of dawn to wee hours of the night—can be rented out on an hourly basis. Such sports grounds don’t just cater to football fans as they are slowly opening up for those who enjoy ultimate frisbee, badminton, yoga, Zumba, cricket, and more. 

The origins of this trend can be traced back to zealous ‘sportsprenuers’ like Sportopoliz tapping into Kerala’s obsession with football. However, now there are many new players in this game. “My business partner and I recently leased out a 30 cent piece of land in the centre of the city. We cleaned it up, and created two well-lit, net-enclosed five-a-side pitches with FIFA-approved synthetic turf,” states co-owner of Zesto, Tharun Anto. The slots at Zesto, which opened a few days ago near Kadavanthara’s Fridgehouse, are already almost completely booked.

These ‘sportsprenuers’ don’t mind if their venues are used for any sport/training be it marathon warmup sessions or cricket practice—as far as the expensive turf doesn’t get damaged. At Mamangalam, Balachandran B, a textile industry professional, recently opened County—a 5,000 sq ft property that can be split into three different net practice areas for cricket fans who can rent the place at `700 per hour.

“Most millennials cannot afford the exorbitant lifetime membership fees charged at sporting clubs around the city. Therefore, they prefer to rent our fields to meet up with friends/colleagues to play or train,” co-owner at Smash Arena, who recently opened a second outlet with three wooden courts on Kaloor-Kadavanthra road.

The idea is to make sports accessible to all. Yet, it isn’t just the corporate crowd who are into this concept (as it suits their timings). Parents also seem to encourage their kids to play in these areas as it assists physical fitness and reaffirms their social skills too.

Francis Noel Ben, the brains behind Chilavannur’s Jogo Football Arena,  is in it for the long-run. There’s so much demand for slots at his site—which is open from 5 am to 1 am—that the 29-year-old is now scaling up and opening venues in Kakkanad, Edapally, and Kozhikode.