Caribbean Pre­mier League eyes US mar­ket ahead of T20 games

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

THE first-ever Caribbean Pre­mier League games in Florida could be the launch­pad for the United States to have its own T20 cricket fran­chise, or­gan­is­ers of the tour­na­ment said.

The six games be­ing held at Lauder­hill in South Florida from to­day to July 30 are the first time that the CPL has branched out from its is­land bases to the United States.

The games will be played at Cen­tral Broward Re­gional Park, which has the only pur­pose-built cricket sta­dium in the United States. The field held the first full in­ter­na­tional matches on Amer­i­can soil, two Twenty20 games be­tween New Zealand and Sri Lanka in 2010.

Lauder­hill is an area with a large pop­u­la­tion of peo­ple of Ja­maican her­itage, while South Florida it­self has com­mu­ni­ties from across the crick­et­lov­ing Caribbean re­gion.

Some prospec­tive in­vestors in the league have al­ready shown in­ter­est in a US fran­chise, said CPL’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Pete Rus­sell.

“It ties you into the lo­cal com­mu­nity and makes it a lot more rel­e­vant. That would make a lot of sense. There is no is­sue with putting it into our sched­ule. But it’s one step at a time we have to see how th­ese games go, but so far, so good,” Rus­sell said.

The CPL fea­tures fran­chises from Ja­maica, Bar­ba­dos, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lu­cia, and St Kitts and Ne­vis and in­cludes in­ter­na­tional play­ers as well as those drawn from the T20 World Cup win­ning West Indies team.

The progress of cricket in the US has been ham­pered by ad­min­is­tra­tive prob­lems with the USA Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion (USACA) hav­ing been sus­pended by the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil (ICC) in De­cem­ber.

The ICC is cur­rently run­ning af­fairs in the US di­rectly.

There have been pre­vi­ous at­tempts to pop­u­larise the sport through games in­volv­ing re­tired in­ter­na­tional stars, play­ing at base­ball venues, but Rus­sell be­lieves the de­mo­graph­ics mean there is no real need to con­vert Amer­i­cans to the sport.

“As well as the Caribbean di­as­pora, you have the Asian pop­u­la­tion here who are cricket-starved,” he added.

While no plans for the fu­ture have been an­nounced it is un­likely that this week’s games, fea­tur­ing all six fran­chises, will be the last time that the CPL fea­tures at Lauder­hill.

“We have in­vested well over a mil­lion dol­lars in com­ing to Florida. The sta­dium is great but to bring it up to in­ter­na­tional stan­dard with the screens, the lights and the hos­pi­tal­ity ar­eas, we have had to in­vest,” said CPL chief ex­ec­u­tive Damien O’Dono­hoe.

Lauder­hill mayor Richard Ka­plan said the games are likely to be well at­tended with a large con­tin­gent of fans trav­el­ling down from New York as well as from across the Sun­shine State.

“I do see the pos­si­bil­ity of a fran­chise, I do see the pos­si­bil­ity of nu­mer­ous long-term re­la­tion­ships in the devel­op­ment of the sport. But we need to re­solve the is­sues around sanc­tion­ing of the games,” he said. –

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