USA Cricket has received a boost of over $1 billion investment from American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) for the development of a domestic T20 league. USA Cricket selected ACE as its strategic partner to conclude a multi-stage evaluation process that began in November 2018. The launch of the league is slated for 2021.
The billion-dollar deal is one of the biggest for the development of domestic cricket in the US. ACE is backed by Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan, the founders of Willow TV (the largest cricket broadcaster in North America), and Satyan Gajwani and Vineet Jain, of the Times of India group. USA Cricket had started the process by publicly inviting proposals for a US-based T20 league. They chose ACE whose proposal combined a large financial commitment to invest into the league, key deals for infrastructure and broadcast distribution, experienced and knowledgeable leadership, and a data-driven, analytical business strategy, which affirmed their ability to build a longstanding institution that will elevate US cricket.
"USA Cricket is excited to partner with ACE to launch a professional cricket league in the United States. We were thoroughly impressed by their comprehensive proposal," Paraag Marathe, USA Cricket board chairman said. "Vijay, Sameer, Satyan and Vineet provided a vision for the growth of cricket in the US on all levels, and we're confident they will create a world class T20 league here in America. This is a watershed moment for cricket in the United States and we look forward to a long-lasting, successful partnership."
ACE has commenced major infrastructure investment towards international grade cricket venues in several US metropolitan markets. ACE is also working to develop additional turf cricket pitches and auxiliary facilities in more than a dozen locations. Based on a major/minor professional league model, the new facilities will provide, for the first time in the US, the ability to stage and support major domestic and international cricket at all levels. In addition, ACE will provide support for USA Cricket's men's and women's national teams to ensure they can capitalise on their recent successes at the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 and the ICC Women's Americas Qualifier, respectively.
The league is expected to feature top international players from the USA team and around the world, combined with a focus on pathways to develop a homegrown player pool for USA Cricket and the league. A major component of ACE's plans is the developmental academies around the country that will be aligned to the league teams and will help foster and develop talent at the youth levels to ensure a strong pipeline of cricket players.
"Cricket has the second-largest audience in the world, and yet has little presence in the largest professional sports market," Gajwani said. "We want to develop a lasting institution that brings to the US the excitement and passion of cricket, enjoyed by billions of people globally. True grassroots development of any sport takes decades and we are excited and committed to play a role in developing world-class cricket in America.
A key highlight of ACE's proposal is distribution, sponsorship and exposure for the professional league and for USA Cricket's national teams via major TV and digital broadcast platforms, led by Willow TV which has over 4 million subscribers. In addition to the Willow assets, ACE and USA Cricket will seek out "free to air" platforms as well to ensure mainstream audiences are exposed to the league.