Texas baseball venue to be new home for US cricket
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Los Angeles (AFP) –
A vacant baseball stadium in Texas is set to become a permanent venue for American cricket as the United States prepares to launch its own domestic Twenty20 competition, USA Cricket said Wednesday.
American Cricket Enterprises (ACE), the parent company of Major League Cricket, a T20 tournament set for 2022, has received approval from the City of Grand Prairie, west of Dallas, on a long-term lease agreement for AirHogs Stadium.
The 5,445-seat arena is to be increased to a 8,000-capacity ground and repurposed as a dedicated cricket venue and training center.
The redevelopment will take place throughout 2021, before it becomes the home of a Texas Major League Cricket franchise due to launch in 2022.
The ground will also serve as a base for the USA national cricket team as well as a high performance center.
"As the first Major League Cricket stadium in the United States, Grand Prairie represents a seminal moment for the sport in America," ACE and Major League Cricket's co-founders Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan said in a statement.
The redevelopment plans will see the stadium's baseball diamond converted to an international standard cricket field capable of hosting international competitions.
Training nets and batting lanes will also be added, as well as two additional outside training fields.
USA Cricket said in a statement the ground would be the centerpiece of efforts to attract international cricket events to the United States, including regional International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup and T20 World Cup Qualifiers.
The venue also forms a part of plans to bring the ICC T20 World Cup and other events to the United States by 2031, a statement said.
"The successful development of a cricket-dedicated stadium has long been a priority for us, and it is a significant stride forward for the growth of cricket in America," USA Cricket chairman Paraag Marathe.
"We also look forward to bringing international cricket events, and the crowds that go with them, to our new stadium, and to help introduce the sport to a broader audience."
Cricket in the United States has a long history, with earliest reports of it being played by British colonists in the early 18th century.
The first major international, between the United States v Canada, took place in 1844, more than 30 years before England and Australia played their first Test in Melbourne in 1877.
But the sport was ultimately eclipsed in America by baseball.
Despite attempts to capitalise on passion for the game among immigrant communities, the US has struggled to make much of an impression on world cricket.
In February, the USA were dismissed for 35, the joint lowest score in ODI history, during a defeat to Nepal.
© 2020 AFP