USA cricket

Franchise process for US pro league to start this month

Peter Della Penna

September 1, 2012

Comments: 18 | Text size: A | A

Anil Kumble rang the NASDAQ closing bell on August 17, New York, August 21 2012
"If cricket really flourishes in the United States, you don't have a better country to market a sport than is done here," Anil Kumble said recently in New York © Getty Images
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The promoters of the first professional US Twenty20 league will begin the tender process for the six inaugural franchises later this month. The league - staged by Cricket Holdings America, a joint venture headed by the USA Cricket Association and New Zealand Cricket - is likely to be held in June and July 2013 with reports suggesting the matches will be played in New York and San Francisco.

CHA has also declared ambitions for the USA to apply and secure hosting rights for future ICC events, including the ICC World Twenty20 within the next 10 years. In addition to taking bids for franchises starting this month, CHA also plans to host exhibition matches in the USA next year between international players and local talent.

"To supplement the UST20 League and the international program there will be a series of All-Star matches each year that will allow international superstars to play alongside and against emerging local talent and the best the United States can offer," CHA's website said.

CHA hopes for the league to grow to as many as 10 franchises by 2016. The first season, reports suggest, will be played primarily in New York and San Francisco. New York has thriving West Indian and South Asian immigrant populations, particularly in Brooklyn and Queens, while the San Francisco Bay Area includes Silicon Valley, where thousands of South Asians have immigrated over the years for work in the software and technology industries.

If the league does launch franchises in New York and San Francisco, it would be highly probable that matches in those cities would be played on artificial pitches. While both cities are home to multiple professional sports teams with outdoor stadiums that hold in excess of 40,000 seats, neither city has an international standard natural turf wicket facility exclusively for cricket and it is doubtful that one would be built to be ready in time for next summer. Currently, the only facility in the USA that is approved by the ICC for use in Twenty20 and ODI matches is the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida.

A Twenty20 league launched in the summer months would primarily be competing for fan and media interest inside the USA with mid-season Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer. The NHL and NBA typically finish their playoffs by the middle of June while the NFL, currently the most popular professional league in the USA, starts its regular season every September.

In order to avoid clashing with the international cricket calendar, the USA Twenty20 league would most likely get underway after the conclusion of the ICC Champions Trophy, which runs from June 6-23 in England. The 2013 Ashes Series follows, which means that top international stars from Australia and England would be unavailable but players from other countries might be tempted by the prospect of coming to play in America.

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey

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Posted by   on (September 4, 2012, 3:06 GMT)

I would think they would use Lauderhill in florida to bring in the crowd from the west indies especially if they get Gayle, Pollard, Narine and the Bravo's to sign up. What a waste of a market if they don't.

Posted by Chris_P on (September 3, 2012, 6:37 GMT)

@amitpat79. T20 has a real chance to make it in the US for the simple fact it suits American tastes. It is shorter than a baseball game, & should provide more fireworks. Soccer was never going to work in the US due to the low scores involved. They want to see goals, points scored. There will be plenty of issues, none the least will be the lack of willingness to pass back balls hit into the crowd. Perhaps a name change other than cricket?

Posted by landl47 on (September 3, 2012, 4:17 GMT)

The problem is that American sport is primarily driven by commercial interests. That means the new league needs advertisers and advertisers want TV coverage. TV won't cover sports unless there is a reasonable amount of support from the right demographic (white Americans aged 18 - 49) and that group won't watch sports unless there are American players not only playing but doing well. It's pretty much a vicious circle. Good luck to the league, but since T20 basically competes for exactly the same market as baseball, I don't think it has much chance. Overseas stars mean nothing here (I live in Illinois), because most Americans have no idea how cricket is played, let alone who the stars are. I'm afraid it will remain a game only watched by ex-pats from cricket-playing countries and that simply isn't a big enough market to support big-time cricket.

Posted by chicko1983 on (September 3, 2012, 2:16 GMT)

amitpat79 - what have you been watching? Soccer is thriving in the US at the moment, all teams in profit and biggest crowds and tv coverage ever in the last season. Their market has a huge appetite for any sport so long as there is good atmosphere at matches. If 5% of the US population eventually become fans of cricket, the market will be as big as Australia.

Posted by   on (September 2, 2012, 18:21 GMT)

It would surely be nice to see the sport adopted fully in the USA. I would also like the white north americans to be part of the teams.

Posted by amitpat79 on (September 2, 2012, 12:38 GMT)

CRICKET is never gone be popular in america why ICC is wasting money try to promote cricket in us .. SOCCER CAN'T MAKE IT IN AMERICA THEN CRICKET HAS NO CHANCE

Posted by   on (September 2, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

cricket players goona be billioners ................

Posted by   on (September 2, 2012, 2:00 GMT)

I do not believe it would be a turn off. I would love to watch cricket at a level a little higher than club. Certainly it is far more satisfying to watch the real deal, but this is America and sometimes you have to settle for a lower level. Besides, we can just pretend....

Posted by Robster1 on (September 2, 2012, 1:59 GMT)

With the dedicated cricket stadium and recent well attended international 20/20 s in Fort Lauderdale it'd seem perverse not to include south Florida.

Posted by Romenevans on (September 1, 2012, 17:04 GMT)

I heard Gundappa Vishvanath and Gavaskar making their comeback in SLPL next season....is that true? Where is Gyanendra Pandey and Vijay Dhahiya anyway?

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