Florida non-committal till USACA pays for venue
The USA Cricket Association risks losing the booking at Lauderhill's Central Broward Regional Park for its USACA National Championship until the deposit is paid, the director of the stadium has told ESPNcricinfo. USACA, which in its announcement on Monday confirmed the Florida facility as the venue for the event, has lost out on bookings in the past for not putting down a deposit at the facility and the possibility exists that it could happen again if another party who is willing to pay steps up.
"I can send them an invoice and if they don't pay any money towards that for August, they're not going to get the stadium for August for their championships. We're a business," said Duncan Finch, Parks and Recreation Manager at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida. "Am I holding my breath that they'll pay promptly for the national championships? They just requested the dates."
Finch said he first received contact from USACA on Thursday about stadium availability in anticipation of the city of Indianapolis' announcement on Friday that they were terminating their hosting agreement for the championship. On Monday, USACA reached out only to request the dates but Finch revealed that USACA has already lost out on hosting dates for the traditional Auty Cup rivalry against Canada. Former USACA chief executive Darren Beazley had announced in December that this year's matches would be held in Florida this October, but Finch said the stadium eventually chose to give the dates to another group after USACA refused to pay.
"That was supposed to be in September," Finch said. "It was going to be in October [16-19] but we didn't have any time for it. Darren had talked to us about it last October and we held the date but we were waiting for a deposit and never received a deposit from USACA. So it is not scheduled here at the stadium. Darren had shifted it in agreement with Canada to September 11-14. We asked for a deposit for the last seven months now and we didn't receive it. So it's been canceled here at the stadium."
Finch also stated that the reason why the event is being held from Thursday, August 14 to Saturday, August 16 - as opposed to the four-day event from Thursday, August 21 to Sunday, August 24 in Indianapolis - is that the facility has been booked for use by a local soccer league for Sundays this summer. Finch says the facility has started to focus its efforts more on soccer due to the historic lack of cricket bookings.
"We're becoming a soccer stadium. The writing's on the wall," Finch said. "This year on my book for people that have paid, FC Barcelona Academy has rented 210 dates in the stadium starting with their summer camp in July. Other soccer activities, we're up to about 30 other soccer dates."
According to Finch, there have only been two cricket events held at the stadium this year: the US Open T20 from December 5-8 and the American College Cricket championship from March 12-17. The last high profile, revenue-generating cricket event to be held at the stadium was in 2012 when the West Indies and New Zealand played a pair of T20s at the ground.
The park was hoping to build off that successful event by having Pakistan and West Indies play a pair of T20s during Pakistan's tour last summer. Instead, negotiations with USACA broke down and the two T20 matches for Pakistan's tour of the West Indies were held in Jamaica. Finch says the Caribbean Premier League also showed interest to stage games there this summer but an agreement couldn't be reached.
"There were discussions about the CPL playing here and that fell apart," Finch said. "We talked with the CPL in December and the next step was to get sanctioning from USACA and Cricket Holdings America and it fell apart."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna