With Even More New Stadiums Going in, Cricket Gains Infrastructure | Sports Destination Management

With Even More New Stadiums Going in, Cricket Gains Infrastructure

Feb 11, 2022 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher
In this image (courtesy of Major League Cricket), the former Airhogs Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas, will be redeveloped for cricket use

When we last checked in, the United States had been named a co-host of the 2024 T20 World Cup in cricket – and the search was on for venues. But now, in addition to the four facilities the U.S. already has (located in Florida, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Pearland, Texas), a few more have been added to the drawing board.

In mid-January, Major League Cricket (MLC) and the County of Santa Clara announced the approval of an exclusive negotiating agreement (ENA) to move forward with lease negotiations and design approvals to develop a world class cricket stadium on a 14-acre parcel of the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds site in San José. 

The news, carried in a press release on Santa Clara’s governmental site, has garnered a substantial amount of interest, being picked up in state, local and national news.

According to the press release issued by Santa Clara, the development would see a significant multi-million-dollar investment by Major League Cricket (MLC) for stadium construction, with MLC planning to work with the internationally renowned architects HKS to design a premier cricket destination.

One of the events it hopes to attract, of course, is the 2024 World Cup – and it has escaped nobody’s notice that the cricket fanbase in the Santa Clara area is enormous, creating ready-made spectatorship, should this new facility be chosen to host those events.

The stadium is a key part of the proposed redevelopment of the 150-acre Santa Clara County Fairgrounds site. The stadium will be home to MLC’s Bay Area franchise and serve as a key hub for the U.S. National Teams.

Santa Clara and MLC will work together to gain approval for the construction of the stadium, expected to have a maximum capacity of 15,000. Plans include state-of-the-art training and competition facilities (including a pitch built to host international play), locker rooms, luxury suites and, dedicated parking. 

“Cricket is a sport that’s increasing in popularity in the U.S. and Santa Clara County,” said Otto Lee, County of Santa Clara District 3 Supervisor. “The addition of an international cricket venue to the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds would help attract large numbers of visitors from around the world to the region. We look forward to finalizing plans with Major League Cricket to move forward with this exciting development for Santa Clara County.” 

Six MLC teams are expected to begin play in major cities across the country, starting in the summer of 2023.

But this is not the only new cricket stadium coming to the USA. Grand Prairie, Texas has received approval for a second MLC stadium, which is expected to open in 2022, according to Visit Grand Prairie.

Visit Grand Prairie notes that MLC has received approval from the City of Grand Prairie on a long-term lease agreement to begin an extensive redevelopment of AirHogs Stadium as the organization’s first major cricket stadium in the United States.

The parent company of MLC, American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) -- in cooperation with USA Cricket – has retained HKS (who is obviously going to be very busy) to repurpose and design the venue.

One of the best sports performance facilities in minor league baseball during its previous life as the home of the Texas AirHogs, the soon-to-be renamed stadium will now become a dedicated world-class cricketing facility. The venue, once completed, will also serve as the headquarters of USA Cricket and its premier high-performance center.

Grand Prairie also has a strong fanbase for cricket, as well as a favorable time zone for broadcasts in major international cricket markets. To create the stadium, the existing baseball diamond will be converted to an international size and quality cricket field. Training nets and batting lanes will be added, as will two additional outside turf fields for training and by the affiliated Major League Cricket academies.

Visit Grand Prairie notes that this will be the most extensive purpose-built cricket facility in the USA. The CVB would like to see the event used for hosting international events like regional International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup and T20 World Cup Qualifiers.

The redeveloped stadium is slated to be ready for cricket in spring 2022 but will serve as a key high-performance center for the USA Cricket Men’s and Women’s National Teams in the interim.

Still another Major League Cricket facility is being planned for Morrisville, North Carolina. According to The Stadium Business, there will be an expansion of Church Street Park, upgrading the facility into an international-quality cricket venue. The work on venue enhancements will begin soon, with the full suite of infrastructure improvements expected to be completed by spring 2023.

The investment will see the addition of more than 2,000 permanent seats to the ground, increasing Church Street Park’s capacity to over 3,500. Upgrades will also include the installation of state-of-the-art broadcast infrastructure, additional parking and LED-illuminated natural and artificial turf practice pitches and nets.

The enhancements will allow Church Street Park to meet the criteria necessary to host games for the 2024 men’s T20 World Cup, the venues for which are expected to be announced later this year.

Other cricket stadiums in the U.S. are:

  • Central Broward Regional Park (Lauderhill, Florida)
  • Leo Magnus Cricket Complex (Los Angeles)
  • Indianapolis World Sports Park (Indianapolis)
  • Smart Choice Moosa Stadium (Pearland, Texas)

While some are multi-purpose facilities, others are seeing heavy cricket use, propelled by demographic shifts.

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