Embrace the CPL

The inaugural Caribbean premier League will soon be upon us and has the potential to bring significant benefits to the region, especially those countries which will host the franchises.

If any lessons can be learnt from the Indian premier League, the primary one is that the people of India have embraced the Indian premier League as theirs and since 2008 have given it their overwhelming support. Of course, IpL organisers have also engaged in several community-based projects and fan-based initiatives to swell the popular support for the tournament.

It is hoped that the people of this region similarly embrace the Caribbean premier League as their own and ensure that it becomes a major success, especially at a time when the economies of the region could do with any form of stimuli.

If previous IpL tournaments staged in India and that staged in South Africa in 2009 can be used as the gauge, there are many entities that can position themselves to contribute to the success of the tournament and also to benefit from some of the tournament’s spin-offs. Though there has been no formal study carried out on the IpL and the economic benefits which have accrued collectively over the six years of its existence, there can hardly be any question that the Indian economy and the fortunes of many on the sidelines have not been made worse by its presence.

It is no coincidence that practically every international cricketing nation now has its own Twenty20 spectacle, even if none has yet to come close to that in India.

Reports are that during the 2009 IpL staged in South Africa because of the general elections in India, the tournament acted as a major stimulus for the South African economy. There was reportedly significant economic activity as a result of the thousands of tourists gathered there. Many hotels, restaurants, gift stores, and other small businesses made the proverbial “killing” as a result of the increased IpL-related spending.

At that time then IpL commissioner, Lalit Modi, reported that 22,000 hotel rooms in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg were booked with Southern Sun Hotels, 10,000 domestic flight bookings were made and millions of rands were spent on tickets, food and beverages, transport and merchandise. Those involved in the production of apparel also benefited from cricket uniform contracts.

We do not expect the region’s CpL to operate on the same scale as the Indian premier League, but it can be a major success with the support of the people of the region, corporate entities coming on board and with organisers engaged in major marketing and promotion of the event throughout the region, in international cricketing destinations and basically wherever the sport has a fan base.

Regional governments, working in partnership with targeted shareholders, should ensure that accessing the region and accommodations should be as easy and cost effective as economically possible.

As has occurred with the IpL and some other Twenty20 tournaments, specifically in England and Australia, regional businesses can use the CPL to promote their enterprises by entering into partnerships with the CpL to have the logos or names of their companies advertised to the world on the shirts, pants, helmets, or bats of the players or at the various grounds where the matches will be played. The franchises themselves stand to benefit from the sale of television and sponsorship rights.

The CpL brand comes as a God-send to the West Indies Cricket Board which could not have financed such an extensive and expensive tournament on its own. In fact, no regional government or combination of governments, could have or would have wanted to facilitate such a venture which could eventuate into a mighty success story or a monumental failure.

The West Indies Cricket Board has already stated that it will earn $4.5 million each year from their deal with Verus International, the owners of the CpL. WICB director Baldath Mahabir has said the earnings would also include an annual licence fee of $1.5 million for the board. This is a major improvement on previous years when the WICB was running the regional T20 tournament and losing $3 million annually because of a lack of sponsors.

Mahabir said it would have been difficult for the WICB to go the route of the Board of Control for Cricket in India by owning CpL and having franchises. He noted the board needed someone to finance the CPL because they would have found it difficult to sell the franchises given the prevailing regional economic situation.

There are many pessimists and other social commentators who sit on the sidelines and pontificate, ad nauseam, about the economic situation in the Caribbean and offer theoretical solutions that neither engenders confidence or solves anything.

The CpL acts as a tangible initiative. It should be embraced by all of us.

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