USA news December 22, 2010

Twenty20 league planned in USA for 2012

The partners of the newly formed entity Cricket Holdings America - New Zealand and American cricket boards - are hoping to start a Twenty20 league in the USA for the summer of 2012, the USA Cricket Association President Gladstone Dainty has said. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday, Dainty said the group is hoping that more Twenty20 matches played by New Zealand in Florida during 2011 and 2012 will provide the platform to kickstart a successful domestic league in the United States.

"We are looking at the schedules, looking at the room, looking at the ICC's Future Tours schedule," Dainty said. "We're certainly looking at playing games in 2011 and leading up to the T20 league in 2012, but they're going to be different fixtures. The commercial company is anticipating that's going to be the year [2012], somewhere in between June and August, to have that T20 league going."

The number of teams has not been finalised, but, according to Dainty, it will be a minimum of four and a maximum of eight. The cities that each team will be based out of also remain undecided but Dainty said that New York is a key destination for the league to bring in fans and that other cities, including Fort Lauderdale in Florida, will be utilised.

"The New Zealand games initially I think are going to be in Florida, but the for T20 type games I think they are looking at different locations. New York is very high on the radar."

Currently, the only ICC approved stadium venue is at the Central Broward Regional Park in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Lauderhill. It will be difficult to build and upgrade venues to get them up to ICC standards in time for 2012, but Dainty said that they will make do with what they have available for the time being.

"I don't think the standards [for Twenty20 leagues] are as high as Test cricket or ODI cricket. And especially with T20 games evolving and professional teams, not international teams, playing, I don't know if that strict standard applies." Asked if the investors are considering playing league games outside of Florida on artificial wickets, Dainty said, "A decision has not been made on that, but I think that whatever they do, they're really not going to try to give a fake product. It's going to be an authentic product.

"I don't think any of them are suitable right now but I'm sure there are lots of venues out there which we can make suitable with alterations."

As for the ownership stake in Cricket Holdings America and the money that it will generate for USACA, Dainty said the contract was signed for 10 years with the first three years guaranteed. USACA will get US$2 million per year in licensing fees for the first three years.

"After three years, USACA will negotiate to see if the money is going up or down." Another source reported that USACA also received an additional US$3 million at the start of the deal in guaranteed share sales, meaning the organisation has US$5 million at its disposal heading into 2011. USACA will also be able to collect profits for other rights deals signed as part of its ownership stake in Cricket Holdings America.

"USACA has 31% of the company. So in the case of any profit shares, USACA is getting 31% of the deal. USACA also has the majority of members of the board under the corporation, the LLC." There will be seven board members for Cricket Holdings America, with four of those seven representing USACA. How those four will be appointed has not been decided. USACA also has an option to buy out the other stakeholders in Cricket Holdings America after 10 years.

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey