REGIONAL FRANCHISE TOURNAMENT TO MAKE A MAJOR IMPACT ON US MARKET
All systems are go as the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) heads to the United States.
Manager of Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium, Duncan Finch, says the facility is ready to host its CPL matches in July. He added officials there had been putting things in place for the first matches to be played July 28 to 31
“We have spent a couple of months making sure that everything prefect, so we are ready, it’s all a go, no question about it,” Finch told the Barbados media while on a tour of the eight-year-old facility in Lauderhill, Florida, this week.
The first matches include two night games and two weekend doubleheaders to round out the league phase of the tournament, scheduled to be played for the first time on US soil.
The pitch was dug out when the Barbadian contingent visited on Wednesday morning but Finch said: “The square in still there, it’s on the run- up side; on the south side that we are redoing. It was too hard, it was becoming saturated and we wanted to loosen that up and do that.”
The field also had brown patches in several areas, which was being watered.
“This is the first time that we have ever seen brown spots on our field in the last three-four weeks but we irrigated it and there is irrigation on every night. But we just cant keep up with the problems,” which he blamed on the drought situation affecting several countries.
“[It’s] the first that we have had in eight years but it needs some rest, some more fertilization and some more water and it will be in good shape,” the park manager added.
Excited about the impact of the tournament, Finch explained that the New Zealand/Sri Lanka Twenty20 two-match series played back in May 2010 pulled a crowd of “12, 000 on the first day [and] 8,000 for the second day,” and he expected that the July tournament would be even bigger.
“We are expecting about 10,000 this time around. The seats hold 5,000 people and everybody else goes up on the berm, we have the party zone on the left, the VIP area on the right and batting cages.
“With the two single night games starting at 7 o’clock, so people can get home and come to the games – they have already sold 5,000 seats already for the four days and tickets have only been on sale for two weeks. People are booking in from New York, Toronto, everywhere – it’s going to be a really big event,” he said.
Also excited about the tournament was Albert Tucker, vice president of Multicultural Business Development whose responsibilities include the park.
However he issued a call to Barbados and the wider Caribbean to form a partnership to push the game forward.
“The challenge that I had was with the West Indies Cricket Board. At one point the board if I remember correctly was in Barbados and then I don’t know if it moved to Jamaica. But they have to have all the islands collectively involved in what they are doing with the sport and just have it centralized in Jamaica.”
“When you look at the growth of the sport it is not growing as much right now but I think with the expansion to the US I think the opportunities to get young people to get engaged again will be really advantageous. So I think opening it up to the partnership with the US and what we are doing here we are going to push and support the sport,” Tucker said.
Meantime, Finch expressed the hope that the CPL would open doors for cricket to become a permanent fixture on US soil.
“If the CPL has a good turnout like it looks like it’s going to do, then they are going to have a franchise team here hopefully and then it will start growing.
“As soon as the American public see the top players are making millions of dollars like other sports, then they are going to encourage their kids to play but its going to be a slow road and that’s why we have built a cricket stadium so that we can grow cricket in the United States,” Finch said.