Written by 11:17 Business

Coming to a City Near You: A Cricket Stadium?

Four years ago, after officials in Grand Prairie, Texas, were pitched an idea to turn the city’s underused minor league ballpark into a stadium for cricket, the city’s manager, Bill Hills, thumbed through a copy of “Cricket for Dummies.”

Like most Americans, Mr. Hills was oblivious to cricket, although that is starting to change.

Last year, the 7,200-seat stadium in Grand Prairie became the new home of the Texas Super Kings, one of six teams that played in the inaugural season of Major League Cricket. And last week, the venue hosted the U.S. national team’s biggest-ever win, a stunning upset of Pakistan in the Men’s T20 World Cup, which this year is being jointly hosted by the United States and several Caribbean nations, and concludes on June 29.

A few days later, more than 34,000 cricket fans watched India narrowly beat Pakistan at a temporary stadium built in Long Island. When Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Summer Olympics, cricket will be among the new sports being played.

Cricket, the world’s second most popular sport, is having a moment in the United States, and investors are looking to cash in on a growing audience for the sport, especially among the cricket-loving South Asian diaspora. That includes backers of Major League Cricket franchises hatching plans for dedicated cricket stadiums in their own cities. The San Francisco Unicorns, the Los Angeles Knight Riders and the Seattle Orcas (partly owned by Satya Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft) are negotiating leases and approvals to build new venues, with hopes of opening in the next few years.

Mr. Hills said that the Major League Cricket games last season in Grand Prairie “definitely exceeded our expectations.” During the two-week season and postseason, some 50,000 people attended a dozen matches in Grand Prairie, and the playoffs from July 27 to July 30 generated $1.7 million in economic activity, including retail, entertainment, car rentals, hotels and dining. The league’s next season starts in July, with Grand Prairie hosting 16 matches. Mr. Hills expects 85,000 fans will show up for the games.

“Who would have thought,” Mr. Hills said, that “a city like Grand Prairie would host international sporting events” watched by millions around the world.

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Last modified: 17 June 2024
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