Lauderhill mayor surprised at USACA u-turn
Richard J Kaplan, mayor of Lauderhill, Florida, has expressed more surprise than excitement at the news that the USA Cricket Association is planning to move their national championship from Indianapolis to his city's Central Broward Regional Park this August. Kaplan also stated his bemusement that USACA was so quick to praise the Lauderhill venue in a Monday press release even though USACA has regularly neglected to utilise the $70 million facility since its opening in 2008.
"They're putting the best spin they can on it," Kaplan told ESPNcricinfo. "It's amazing how quickly it turned around between Friday and Monday that [Lauderhill] is a better venue. It's an available venue and it is ICC accredited. We have the only ICC accredited stadium in the United States and they never built it. We built it without their help and without their funding. Where has USACA advanced the cause of cricket in the United States in the last 10 years? If it wasn't for us, they'd have no place to play this or they could play it on a regular unaccredited field."
USACA announced on Monday that they were taking their national championship to Florida because the facilities offered by Lauderhill - floodlights, stadium seating, practice pitches and locker rooms - were far superior than what Indianapolis offered. USACA also criticised Indianapolis for the failure of a development grant bid made to the ICC which it claimed was rejected because Indianapolis wouldn't commit to a long-term deal. However, the ICC issued a press release on Tuesday to refute USACA's claims and instead praised the city for their efforts in trying to promote cricket.
The ICC stated that the decision to reject the grant proposal was "in no way a negative reflection on the City of Indianapolis or the commitment it has made to cricket in recent years. For cricket to develop in the USA, as in all ICC members, the support of government partners is absolutely paramount. Through the building of two cricket grounds as part of the World Sports Park development, the City of Indianapolis has demonstrated a willingness to embrace cricket which is greatly appreciated."
Kaplan says that from his own experiences with USACA, he has some sympathy for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and how events have unfolded regarding the national championship. He would be shocked if another city attempts to establish any relationship with USACA for the purpose of staging events.
"I don't see the future with USACA at this point, not with their present leadership there," Kaplan said. "I don't know why the ICC would want USACA to continue being the sanctioning authority because it just can't do it. I don't personally see another city in the United States wanting to work with USACA to promote cricket. They did it to us and now they did it to Indianapolis. Now Indianapolis is a much bigger city than the city of Lauderhill is but I don't know if they realise that cities talk to each other all the time. In fact, I'll probably see the mayor of Indianapolis later this month to talk about what happened. We have mayors meetings we go to and we see each other."
Kaplan says he has attempted numerous times to come to a long-term arrangement with USACA so that the Lauderhill stadium can generate consistent revenue. But he says that not only has USACA not responded, their refusal to sanction events has killed the city's negotiations to host T20 matches between West Indies and Pakistan as well as matches for the Caribbean Premier League.
"We have asked for a long-term agreement with them so we would have sanctioning ability so we could continue to conduct our events, but they never did it," Kaplan said. "They asked for proposals and we kept giving them a proposal and I don't know what they ever did with it. It didn't make any sense. I would have thought that this community gave international cricket and US cricket and any sanctioning organisation a multi-million dollar gift of an ICC accredited facility that any other country that's big into cricket would have openly been thrilled about."
"They dream to get stuff like this. We gave it to them. We created it and it taught me a lesson that we should have had them buy in at the very beginning before we ever entertained proceeding to build it. We assumed that they would be thrilled that we would go ahead with it. They never objected to it. The ICC never objected to it, but we never got any conditions attached to it to allow us to actually use it the way it was supposed to have been. So nobody misunderstands me, I'm very supportive of the development of US cricket, international games, the US team and always have been. The issues come up when those groups that are supposed to promote the sport really haven't done a very good job of it."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna