Indianapolis terminates agreement to host USACA Nationals
The city of Indianapolis, Indiana has terminated its agreement to host the relaunch of the USA Cricket Association National Championships which were due to be held from August 21-24 in the brand new, $6 million World Sports Park facility. Indianapolis Parks and Recreation director, John W Williams, sent a letter to USACA notifying them of the termination on Friday and a city official confirmed that the decision includes not just the 2014 championship but the entire three-year agreement which had been signed in September 2013 under former USACA chief executive Darren Beazley.
In the letter, Williams cited a breakdown in communication with USACA following the announcement of Beazley's resignation in March, a lack of information on qualifying events to determine the players and teams who would actually be participating, and an inability for USACA to work with the city to identify and secure sponsorships for the event as reasons for terminating the agreement. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's office stated in a press release that city officials had gone "months without adequate communication that was jeopardising the success of the tournament."
On Tuesday, USACA had announced the appointment of Sunil Kumar, president of the Northern California Cricket Association, as a project manager to take over Beazley's role in relation to working with the city of Indianapolis to help coordinate logistics for the event. ESPNcricinfo spoke to Marc Lotter, Mayor Ballard's director of communications, who said to his knowledge no one at the city or mayor's office had received any communication of any kind from Kumar prior to Friday. Lotter said the city is still committed to helping develop cricket both locally and nationally, but hinted that they will wait until the battle between USACA and the American Cricket Federation is sorted before they commit to hosting any future events.
"It's been well documented that there's a lot of organisational changes and things taking place at the national level," Lotter said. "The city remains committed to working with the international body to help grow the sport of cricket in the United States and we believe we are well positioned to do so. Once the organisational changes and things that are taking place between the national and international bodies are all worked out, we'd be happy to entertain hosting a similar event.
"I'm not speaking to a specific body or excluding any specific body. There are a lot of organisational changes that have been widely reported that are taking place within that organisation and its relationship to other bodies. Once all those things are worked out and the organisational changes have had time to take effect, then obviously the city would be open to working with any appropriate groups to restoring this tournament."
When asked about ticket sales at the event, Lotter said he could not provide concrete details, but admitted it had been difficult to market the event to fans and sponsors due to the lack of information provided by USACA as to who would be participating. However, a source involved with the event stated that since tickets originally went on sale in February, none had been sold.
Richard J Kaplan, Mayor of Lauderhill, Florida, had told ESPNcricinfo in an interview last year that other cities in the USA looking to build stadium facilities for cricket should be wary of working with USACA following his own city's experiences. Lauderhill's cricket stadium opened in 2007 as part of the $70 million Central Broward Regional Park, but the field has rarely been utilised for cricket events. Lotter said that Ballard and the city of Indianapolis were aware of these issues, which is why the World Sports Park in Indianapolis was designed to be a multi-sports venue with no permanent seating structures.
"We did see a lot of the media reports and the city did a lot of things differently," Lotter said. "The city did not enter into its agreement to host these tournaments until Darren Beazley got on board and was making a lot of changes and bringing a lot of professional leadership to that organisation. As noted in that letter terminating that agreement, once Mr. Beazley left the organisation, then that communication stopped and we have taken the action we've taken today."
The USACA National Championships were scheduled to mark the grand opening of the park and Lotter says that currently nothing has been lined up as a replacement for those dates.
USACA has yet to issue a formal response on their website regarding the termination and it is unknown if any contingency plans are in place to hold the event at an alternate location. ESPNcricinfo sought a comment from Sunil Kumar and first vice-president Michael Gale on Friday but calls and emails to both went unreturned. When ESPNcricinfo contacted USACA president Gladstone Dainty by phone to seek a response, he launched into a personal attack before hanging up.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna