When much of the world is enamored of a sport…
When the U.S. doesn’t understand it at all…
When there’s actually a directory of fields for the sport in the U.S. (but many people aren’t aware of them)…
When that sport has been lobbying for Olympic acceptance for years (and by all accounts, is getting closer)…
…you have cricket. And it’s growing in popularity in the U.S., spurred by a diverse population that brings its enthusiasm for the sport from the countries it used to call home.
Later this summer, the sport will get its first big test. The first six Caribbean Premier League matches to be played on U.S. soil will include two games under floodlights at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida as well as two weekend doubleheaders to round out the league phase of the tournament, from July 28 to 31.
The goal of organizers is to have a sell-out for those games, according to ESPN.
The article goes on to state:
Caribbean Premier League chief executive Damien O’Donohoe has said filling up the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida, with 10,000 fans on four consecutive match days in July, will be the primary factor in determining if the league returns to Florida.
O’Donohoe said a World T20 victory for West Indies will hopefully have spurred greater interest in the first CPL matches being played in the USA, from July 28 to 31 in Lauderhill.
“Looking at American sports and looking at foreign sports coming in, what has always been a success is when the best players in the world are there,” O’Donohoe told ESPNcricinfo. “You look at the All Blacks, rugby is relatively unknown and yet they filled Soldier Field. Cricket is largely unknown but coming in with the world champions gives us a real leg up and I think it’s going to really turn the heads first of the Caribbean people and people of cricket nations but also hopefully it’s going to turn the heads of some US baseball fans to come.”
The difference, of course, between rugby and cricket is that rugby already has a strong college following in this country. In addition, rugby sevens is an Olympic sport (as of this summer’s Games in Rio). The U.S. is launching the Professional Rugby Organization (PRO) with five teams (one in Ohio, one in Colorado and three in California), and it is being marketed heavily to Millennials in the hope of catching their attention.
Cricket has the USA Cricket Association, but it unfortunately lacks the publicity – and the money – being showered on rugby at the moment. The Cricket All-Stars Tour, which took place in late 2015 in Los Angeles, was not well-attended and organizers had to slash ticket prices to get bodies in seats by game time.
Officials at the Caribbean Premier League say they have learned from this, and are offering affordable tickets. They are also working to have players promote the sport by offering free clinics and demo play at local schools and parks.
If it all works, sports builders may be seeing an uptick in demand for cricket grounds.
Have you been asked to build or line a cricket facility? Let ASBA know!