Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cricket Organizing Body in Peril...May Jeopardize Cricket Competition Used to Gain Support For World Sports Park

One key selling point of the new World Sports Park on the Eastside of Indianapolis is that the city's millions in investment would be paid back by drawing in events like the U.S. Cricket Championships.  The Mayor even delivered a contract between the U.S.A. Cricket Association and the city.

Problem now is that he USACA seems to be going down and may be suspended by the International Cricket Council putting the organization in further peril financially.

Some have smelled something funny with this whole deal from the start.  The USACA has been headquartered in Florida and has had access to a 5,000 seat cricket stadium (instead of a cricket field with temporary seating).  It seemed strange that the USACA would move the championships here.

According to ESPN, the USACA hasn't held a national tournament since 2011, and that was poorly attended organized and attended.  As you can see below, ESPN casts doubt on the city's estimates of economic boon.

Various Indianapolis media outlets reported on Friday that some city officials expect thousands of spectators to attend from across the country for the USACA tournaments. City officials also reportedly are anticipating that USACA's domestic championships will generate revenue for both the city and USACA through ticket sales and broadcast rights fees. 
Such ambitious targets would be a giant leap forward from the overall lack of community support shown during the course of recent history in domestic and international tournaments involving the United States regional and national teams. USACA has no scheduled domestic tournaments for 2013 and has not held a 50-over national championship since 2010. 
The last domestic tournaments USACA held of any kind were in 2011. That year, the inaugural USACA Twenty20 national tournament was shifted from Dallas, Texas to Newark, New Jersey just weeks before the scheduled starting date. Despite Twenty20 routinely billed as a format perfectly suited to the American audience, only a handful of spectators attended. The tournament was infamous for its shoddy organization, treacherous field conditions and administrators who had to be separated outside the boundary after nearly coming to blows. 
Poor spectator turnout for domestic events has been a routine problem for tournaments staged in Lauderhill, Florida at the $70 million Central Broward Regional Park. After opening in 2008, USACA held their Men's 50-over National Championship at the 5000 seat stadium in Florida in 2009 and 2010, during which not more than a few dozen people attended. Roughly the same amount of spectators turned out this March for the 2013 ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament, which USA won 8-0 to clinch a spot at the 2013 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. None of the matches were broadcast on TV or radio. 
"Not one of those events puts anybody in the stands," said Lauderhill Mayor Richard J Kaplan in an interview with ESPNcricinfo in April. "It doesn't sell one ticket. I don't need a multi-million dollar stadium with 5000 permanent seats to sit there with nobody using it."

Let me be clear.  The problem here is not cricket.  The sport itself is something that's extremely popular around the world.  There is a population of folks in town that play this sport.  We get that.  The question is that the Mayor knew he was going to do this as early as 2009, and he hardly told anyone.  Then, he waited until the city was in the grips of a public safety mess to spend $6 million on a World Sports Park only he asked for.

I'm not the first nor will I be the last to raise questions on this.  Councillor Christine Scales, Angela Mansfield, and a variety of other City-County Councillors as well as bloggers like Paul Ogden, Pat Andrews, and Gary Welsh have been all over this.  Why hasn't the Mayor?

For the record, the WIBC article says the city is not concerned.  They're taking a "nothing to see here" attitude, as you may expect them to do.  I hope that the event goes off well for the fans of the sport and for the city.  I just continue to have my doubts.  It's a shame that the Mayor and his administration was blinded by their own goals and didn't do their due diligence.

The US Cricket Championships are scheduled for August 21-24 at the World Sports Park.  The event is to be televised on ESPN3.

1 comment:

mehedi hasan said...

Cricket is now out of stadium and it is here