CPL T20 News

Stadium Construction Crucial To Full Realization of Canadian Cricket’s Immense Potential

The Caribbean Premier League’s (CPL) recent (June 11) announcement of its plans to introduce world class cricket to their neighbors south of the border will have left many Canadian cricket fans shaking their heads in utter frustration! Were it not for the absolute lack of availability of a suitable “internationally certified” cricket ground in any of its ten Provinces, Canada could been chosen to host CPL matches as early as last year (2014). By 2016 it may even have been home to an actual CPL Franchise team.

Their previous explorations of the Canadian hosting potential having abjectly failed to identify a suitable venue, CPL officials have obviously now turned their attention to more potentially greener pastures Stateside. The CPL’s announced plans are for three or four matches of the League’s 2016 Competition to be played at Fort Lauderdale’s Central Broward Stadium. The CPL has also announced its plans to fully explore the establishment of a US based full-time franchise team.
Described as “the Biggest Party in Sport” this year’s CPL will be beamed through ESPN television coverage into over 200 million households across the world. ESPN and Guardian Media Group are the broadcasters that will be providing coverage to the Caribbean for the duration of the tournament. Big-name broadcasters such as Sony Six (India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives) BT Sport (UK), Guardian Group (Caribbean), ESPN (USA and Caribbean), Fox Sports (Australia), SuperSport (South Africa) and Sky (New Zealand) have all signed deals to carry live coverage of this year’s tournament, with a broadcaster in Pakistan and Bangladesh expected to be confirmed before the tournament starts. Last year’s competition attracted a global audience in excess of 65 million, and this year is set to be even higher as fans across the world continue to be drawn to the high quality action on the pitch and the unique party atmosphere off it.
As the CPL and other T20 Leagues, particularly the Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash, have demonstrated, global television coverage such as ESPN’s can generate billions of dollars in revenues. In addition there are the associated revenues from venue signage advertising, gate receipts, food concessions and merchandising from the thousands who typically fill the stands to enjoy their share of the exciting entertainment T20 matches provide. All of which can combine to make the hosting of world class T20 Cricket League matches extremely lucrative as an economic enterprise.
Last year’s (2014) CPL matches generated well over US$40 million dollars in combined revenues for the Caribbean countries which served as hosts. Had Canada been able to enjoy any part of that scenario as a hosting country, needless to say the forthcoming revenues would have been an entirely useful cash infusion to the implementation of plans for Canadian cricket’s further development.
The loss of CPL opportunity has now therefore only served to further underline the harsh reality that unless and until it develops a stadium capable of hosting world class matches for any of the game’s available formats, the abbreviated, highly entertaining T20’s, the slightly longer One Day Internationals or even five day Tests, Canada’s immense potential as a cricketing country will never be fully realized. The tangible existence of which is now indisputable, both in terms of Canada’s international match hosting capabilities, as well as its ability to field internationally competitive teams in cricket’s shorter formats: T20’s and One Day Internationals.
Within the past four to five decades accommodating immigration policies, by successive Federal governments, have allowed Canada’s now estimated 35 million population to be characterized by an ever increasing influx of individuals from cricket playing countries. Canada’s resident populations of Bangladeshis, Indians, Pakistanis, South Africans, Sri Lankans, as well as those from the Caribbean, now number in the millions.
Many within such populations have brought their love of and passion for cricket with them to Canada. As much is evidenced by the impressive crowds which have attended Canadian hosted matches involving world class players. The 1989 United Way Exhibition Match involving a world class West Indies XI playing against a South Asian dominated Rest of the World XI attracted an unprecedented 55,000 spectators to Toronto’s Skydome, which had been converted to a temporary, makeshift, cricket facility as a hosting venue. To date no other Canadian sporting event, including home matches for the Toronto BlueJays as former World Series Baseball Champions, has ever recorded such a massive attendance.
Immigrant fueled cricket passion has also been increasingly evident on the actual field of play. Canada boasts a proud history of international participation at cricket’s highest levels, including multiple appearances at the sport’s marquee competition the Quadrennial World Cup. Although the performances by Canadian teams in international competition have been largely disappointing of late, grassroots participation interest in cricket, particularly in Ontario, has nevertheless continued to grow at a phenomenal rate. The number of schools with registered cricket programs and clubs hosting active teams, at both junior and senior levels, is now highly impressive.
With a significantly sized population of potential spectator interest, national teams participating fairly actively in international competitions, a solidly developing club structure and ever increasing interest at school and grassroots levels, Canadian cricket seemingly possesses all the required ingredients for the realization of a very bright future. Real progress towards any such realization is however unfortunately being stymied by two negatively influencing factors.
The first of these is Canada’s glaringly apparent current lack of a sufficiently efficient governing body. Secondly there is the aforementioned non-existence of a facility with world class cricket hosting capabilities.
As Canadian cricket’s governing body, Cricket Canada’s reputation of late has unfortunately been that of a highly dysfunctional, immensely tangled bureaucratic entity. It is currently embroiled in desperate attempts to avoid the threatened loss of its coveted status as an International Cricket Council (ICC) Associate Member. It also reportedly faces a number of impending law suits.
As such there may be no immediately foreseeable hope of it ever functioning as an architect for full realization of the country’s cricket potential. Private involvement, by individuals and corporations, therefore now appears to be the best available vehicle for realistic success in that regard.
Towards that end Roy Singh’s ongoing individual efforts to serve as a catalyst towards the realization of Canadian cricket’s potential have been most encouraging. Undaunted by the refusal of sanctioning approval and other unwarranted Cricket Canada instituted roadblocks, Singh has proceeded with plans for launching the Inaugural Season of his own T2o Canadian Premier League at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium this August.
Even more heartening are Singh’s efforts to date towards the construction of the desired world class cricket in the Greater Toronto Area. He has commissioned a feasibly study, developed highly impressive an architectural design for a covered roof facility and engaged in discussions with several very interested Municipalities for the acquisition of the required land acreage. He now only needs an infusion of seed funding financial capital, from suitable investors, for the project to progress further towards its targeted completion within the next three years.
Many within Canada’s ever growing cricketing population will now undoubtedly be following, with keen interest, further developments on the Caribbean Premier League’s US hosting plans. Perhaps musing in envy on what could and should have been for Canada’s enjoyment of the same.
Governed by their now heightened appreciation and acceptance of the necessity for the construction of their own stadium with world class cricket hosting capabilities, they will also undoubtedly be wishing Roy Singh every success in his further activities towards the acquisition of the required private and corporate financial support. Core funding support, which if received would facilitate the stadium’s completion and its functioning as a catalyst for the full realization of Canada’s now indisputable immense cricketing potential.