Not a fair game

February 25, 2024

How the PSL fans are having trouble reaching the sporting venue, among other issues

Fans have to walk all the way from the designated parking lots. — Photo by Rahat Dar
Fans have to walk all the way from the designated parking lots. — Photo by Rahat Dar


n Thursday last, Ali Hamza and his father Ghulam Hamza were among the spectators at the ongoing PSL Cricket Tournament who left the Gaddafi Stadium early. As they were coming out, 10-year-old Ali remarked joyously, “Even though Naseem Shah got the drubbing from the rival team batsman, and this is the last thing I wanted to see, still I’m happy that I got to witness my hero live in action.”

The Hamzas had recently arrived from Islamabad in the city in connection with a family wedding, and they decided to watch a game of cricket at the stadium. After all, Ali’s favourite team, Islamabad United, was playing.

Multiple security layers fall in the way, hindering a smooth footfall.— Photo by Rahat Dar
Multiple security layers fall in the way, hindering a smooth footfall.— Photo by Rahat Dar

But reaching the venue was an ordeal they’d like to forget. “We parked at the Liberty Market facility and had to walk all the way to the stadium,” said Ghulam Hamza, a banker. This proved hard as they struggled past the roundabout which was choked with traffic.

“It’s risky making your way through such mess with your little one in tow,” he added.

Ghulam Hamza isn’t the only one who’s complaining. Ask anyone who’s been to the stadium, and they’ll tell you how reaching the venue was arduous, no matter which direction they were coming from.

“When you have children with you, it’s not a stroll, it’s a struggle,” said Saif Leghari who was there with his wife, a toddler, and a five-year-old girl.

One reason for this could be the multiple security layers. That is why the designated parking lots are all a good few hundred metres away from the stadium. The city traffic police have set up parking stands at Liberty Market, Hotel SunFort and Government Gulberg College for Boys. Those coming from The Mall, Jail Road, Canal Road or Thokar Niaz Baig can park their vehicles at the GGCB; while those coming from Cavalry Ground, Defence and Cantt areas can park at the Liberty or SunFort parking.

In the initial years of the PSL, a shuttle service from the parking lot to the stadium. In 2018, the Lahore Transport Company provided a complimentary shuttle service to facilitate the PSL cricket enthusiasts in reaching Gaddafi Stadium. The fleet dedicated for the service included 30 AC-coaster buses and five AC Hiace Vans to provide pickup from Liberty, Rescue 1122 Office, Muslim Town Mor; from Jam-i-Shirin Park, Gulberg, to Liberty Roundabout; from Boys College, Gulberg, to Gaddafi’s internal loop; and from FIFA Gate to the internal loop of Gaddafi.

The shuttle service continued in one form or the other till 2022 in all cricket matches, according to Lahore-based photojournalist Murtaza Ali. “The service was always irregular,” he says. “It was non-functional at various parking spots near the stadium.”

“We didn’t know there would be no shuttle. Had we known this, we’d probably have changed our plan,” said Leghari who ended up hailing a rickshaw to get to the other side of Liberty Roundabout.

At the entrance, a slew of police officials could be seen engaging with the crowd. ASP Gulberg Shehrbano Naqvi, who was supervising the security, told TNS how she occasionally offered a ride to the elderly as well as those with special needs, to help them reach the stadium gate.


Other than the lack of shuttle service, one common grouse of the fans is the process of ticketing. “Buying ticket online is easy, but it becomes frustrating when the link is down, which is quite often the case,” said Hussain Abbas, a former first class cricket player from Iqbal Town.

“I managed to get a free pass for my family. However, many people have told me that online ticket purchasing is quite complex.”

(This scribe tried to log on to, the online portal for booking tickets for PSL matches, and found that it wasn’t working.)

Then there are other issues the fans have to contend with. “The match was fun, but not the tuck shop,” said Noor Masooma, a university student who was there with her friends. “The water bottle which you can get for Rs 40 from the market, was available for Rs 100 at the tuck shop. Similarly, the price of a packet of chips was double the market price.”

Masooma said each of her friends had bought the Rs 3,000 ticket. “We were told that it did not include a complimentary water bottle.”

Just as the match ended, the crowds started pouring out, the Main Boulevard was choked. Traffic wardens looked frantic and tried helplessly to help the situation.

Days ahead of the PSL, the CTP had unveiled a traffic plan, besides setting up a traffic advisory for motorists who were asked to avoid unnecessary use of The Mall, Canal Road, Jail Road, Main Boulevard and Ferozepur Road. The idea was to mitigate traffic disruptions between the PC Hotel, where teams were staying, and Gaddafi Stadium.

“The most fearful time is when teams are relocated to the stadium and back,” said a warden. “Traffic has to be redirected to alternative routes.”

He said that the problem arises because most motorists have no idea about the traffic diversion.

When contacted, PCB spokesperson Shakeel Khan expressed his ignorance about the shuttle being discontinued. He said that all other issues faced by the crowds should be directed to the organisers.

The writer is a media veteran interested in politics, consumer rights and entrepreneurship

Not a fair game