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The Stanford 20/20 cricket project is getting ready to go global. The organisers of the event recently signed a deal with International Management Group (IMG), which will see the tournament being televised across the planet.
The agreement will facilitate international distribution of the Stanford 20/20 television broadcast being produced by Century TV. Next year's event will run from January 25 to February 24 and will be played at the Stanford Cricket Ground, outside the airport in Antigua. The winning team will again pocket US$1 million (BDS$2 million).
In a media statement issued late Friday, Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire who conceptualised the event, said the international distribution of next year's tournament will be undertaken by IMG and will include major markets in North America, Europe and Asia.
"This expanded partnership with IMG, the leader in sports marketing and broadcast distribution, will ensure that not only will the people of the Caribbean enjoy the unique and exciting Stanford 20/20 tournament, but a wider global audience will be able to see it as well. This is great for Antigua and, indeed, the entire region as we are highlighted as a place where first-class events can be hosted, and hosted well," he said.
Peter Smith, senior vice-president of IMG Media, director for international sales, said it was a win-win situation and his organisation was eagerly looking forward to working with the Stanford group.
"We are delighted to work with Stanford on cricket, expanding the solid relationship we've had in place for golf and tennis," Smith said. "This will allow us to provide the exposure and support that will ensure this exciting Caribbean tournament, with all its flavour and fun, will reach cricket fans across the globe. This will also introduce the sport to so many more who will quickly become engrossed in this fresh new version of cricket."
In the first Stanford 20/20 tournament in the summer of 2006, Stanford invested over US$30 million (BDS$60 million). Since then the investment has increased to over US$100 million and recently the organisers signed a deal with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the event is now officially part of the board's calendar.
"We are pleased to see that the regional Stanford 20/20 Tournament, which is part of the annual cricket calendar of the WICB, will reach an audience beyond the Caribbean and provide our players with greater exposure globally," said WICB president Julian Hunte. "This, hopefully, will motivate them to achieve higher levels of professionalism which, in turn, will give us the 'bench strength' or depth that we need to regain and retain our place at the pinnacle of world cricket."
T20 cricket, the three-hour version of the "gentleman's game" has emerged as the new way to attract fans. It has taken off all across the world and other investors like Stanford have pumped money into the new concept.