Florida T20 ticket sales double from 2010 event
More than 10,000 fans are expected to turn out each day for the pair of Twenty20s between New Zealand and West Indies on June 30 and July 1 in Florida. The two T20 matches in 2010 between New Zealand and Sri Lanka received lukewarm response with an average crowd of 4300, but more than twice as many seats have been sold for next weekend's event.
According to Jeff Miller, the event manager at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, about 5000-6000 tickets remain for each day's play with capacity of the venue set at 16,400. According to another source, approximately 5000 fans from around the Caribbean who have tickets are expected to travel to Florida for the weekend.
While the traveling supporters will be a good boost for the local economy, there are still some doubts regarding the appetite for cricket among the local population, which features a sizeable Jamaican expatriate contingent. Cricket Holdings America - the joint venture between the USA Cricket Association and New Zealand Cricket - is aiming to use south Florida and the Central Broward Regional Park to launch an expansion team for its proposed Twenty20 league slated to start next summer. A strong level of support from cricket fans residing in the area is needed to prove it can support a team in such a league.
In general, the greater Miami area has a poor reputation for attendance at outdoor pro-sporting events. The NFL's Miami Dolphins had the second worst home attendance percentage in 2008, a year in which they made the playoffs, and once again ranked 31 out of 32 teams in 2011. Baseball's Miami Marlins ranked 28th out of 30 teams last year in home attendance percentage and while they have improved on that in 2012 to move up to 12th, that's still low for a team playing in a brand new $634 million stadium which opened in April.
West Indies have yet to name a squad for the Twenty20 matches, but the recent return of Chris Gayle could provide a late surge in ticket sales in the days leading up to the Florida fixtures.
Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey