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Big in Texas: Dallas Suburb Targeted for $500 Million Cricket Stadium

29 May, 2019

By: Michael Popke

In 2018, Texas became home of North America’s largest esports facility with the opening of the $10.5 million Esports Stadium Arlington, a 100,000-square-foot facility dedicated to live competitive gaming.

Now, plans appear to be moving forward with a $500 million cricket stadium the Dallas suburb of Allen. As The Guardianreported in late April, the proposal calls for a 15,000-seat venue that would anchor a mixed-use complex and include training facilities, residential and retail units, and office space.

Worldatlas.com ranks cricket as the second-most popular sport in the world with an estimated 2.5 billion fans (soccer is No. 1), but is Dallas ready for something this epic?

“Bullish cricket boosters cite a range of data that support the sport’s potential,” according to Dallas’ D Magazine. “There is a growing, ready-made cricket-obsessed population in North Texas, as evidenced by the popularity of online streaming of professional cricket matches. When it comes to streaming numbers, California … leads the pack, but Illinois, Texas, and Florida all post healthy numbers.”

Yet the Allen Sports Village, the name for the proposed complex, hasn’t met with overwhelming local support. As The Guardian reports:

The stadium has incurred the wrath of local residents concerned about its impact on traffic levels and noise pollution. The future is uncertain after one of the developers pulled out, leaving the local partner and owner of the site, Thakkar Developers, to insist plans for the stadium project were still going ahead, perhaps with other investors.

Meanwhile, the Allen Sports Village’s national partner has talked big. The Philadelphia-based businessman Jignesh Pandya aims to help professionalize cricket in the U.S. and has touted a nationwide plan, worth $2.4 billion, to bring cricket to America. Crucially, Pandya’s plan includes an eye-popping eight arenas spread across the country specifically designed for cricket. But his plan has been floating around for at least a couple of years now with few signs of tangible results. Pandya could not be reached to discuss the status of his nationwide plan, while Thakkar Developers did not respond to questions about the status of the stadium in Allen.

Yet local reports have suggested a $25 million economic incentive grant, and tax incentives had been promised should the complex materialize. The City of Allen offered no such guarantee when asked byThe Guardian what contributions would be offered by the public purse. “The concept plan is currently under staff technical review with the City of Allen. Projects must go through the planning and zoning process before it is determined what, if any, incentives would be given to a developer,” a statement from the city government said.

Pandya’s initial plan highlighted the eight stadium sites as Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California. Recent reports out of Atlanta suggest Pandya is leading an effort to purchase a mall site that would be turned into a similar 20,000-seat cricket stadium and mixed-use development.

Texas is no stranger to big stadium projects. Allan, as some astute readers may recall, is home of Eagle Stadium — a $60 million, 18,000-seat  high school football stadium that closed in 2014, two years after opening, when reports surfaced of extensive concrete cracking in the stadium concourse. And last year, another Dallas-area school district opened a $70 million football stadium in McKinney. That venue only holds 12,000 fans, though.

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