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The United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) and the City of Indianapolis reached an agreement to host the 2014, 2015 and 2016 U.S. National Men’s Cricket Championships at the Indianapolis World Sports Park.
Pic (Right): Mayor Greg Ballard (right) seen here with USACA President Gladstone Dainty and former Indy Parks Director Stuart Lowry. [File photo from 2009 - courtesy USACA]
This agreement was a 'direct result of new leadership at USACA and a decision by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to provide additional backing to help grow the sport of cricket in the United States,' USACA and City of Indianapolis noted in a joint news release. The release noted that the 2014 tournament will mark the return of a U.S. National Championships – the first in three years.
According to USACA CEO, Darren Beazley, “The 2014 USACA National Men’s Cricket Championship will provide the most talented cricketers in this country with the opportunity to compete in a first class facility against the best in the nation. It will be an important component in USACA’s mission to develop cricket at all levels, from youth to adult, and it will create an occasion to showcase our sport to a non-traditional cricket audience.”
The 2014 tournament, set for late August, is scheduled to be the first high-profile event played on the new grounds of the Indianapolis World Sports Park on the city's east side. The park, currently called the Post Road Community Park, is undergoing transformation to create a multi-sport complex capable of hosting elite level play for many of the world's popular field sports, including rugby, lacrosse, Gaelic sports, soccer, Australian rules football, and cricket. Talks began about hosting this tournament in 2009.
Cricket was on the agenda during Mayor Ballard's second trip to India in April. The Mayor met with the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Kiran Kumar Reddy Nallari, a competent cricketer who captained Hyderabad U-22 and South Zone Universities teams during his playing days. On April 14, he toured Hyderabad Cricket Asscoiation's ICC approved Test facility in Uppal - the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium. Hyderabad is Indianapolis' sister city.
In an interview with The Times of India newspaper, Ballard said, “Cricket is not exceptionally strong in the U.S. right now. I aim to change that.”
“When people around the world think of cricket, I want them to think Indianapolis,” the Mayor told TOI.
The agreement with USACA marks the first step in that direction for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. “Sports competition helps bridge geographic and cultural gaps in a lasting way, and for that very reason, I am proud to welcome USACA and the athletes who represent the sport of cricket in the United States," Ballard said.
The Indianapolis Business Journal reported last week that Republican City-County Councilor Christine Scales raised concerns about USACA's track record and sent Ballard's staff a list of questions about the city’s relationship with USA Cricket. “If we’re dependent on them, I’m worried," Scales told IBJ.
David Ladd, Ballard’s point man on the cricket initiative, was more optimistic. Ladd told IBJ that he was impressed by USACA CEO Darren Beazley, who he had met several times since Beazley’s appointment earlier this year.
“He’s got a new attitude, a new approach. He’s got a good relationship with the ICC,” Ladd told IBJ. Ladd also told IBJ that USACA's fees and other requirements had not yet been negotiated.
David Morton of the Sunrise Sports Group told IBJ that he thought USA Cricket’s track record is “bothersome to some extent,” but could be surmounted through the involvement of the Indiana Sports Corp. The USACA and Indy Parks joint media release confirmed that the Indiana Sports Corp would be involved. “Indiana Sports Corp is happy to assist in the planning to develop this event in an effort to grow the game of cricket domestically. We are excited that Indianapolis continues to increase and diversify the sports offerings for our community," Allison Melangton, Indiana Sports Corp president, was quoted as saying in the media release.
“Indianapolis and the surrounding areas are home to many residents, like me, who grew up playing cricket and love the sport the same way many people love baseball,” said Parag Pandya, President of the Indy Legends Cricket Club. “News of a national tournament coming here is exciting, and I look forward to the opportunity to be involved in this event in any way that I can.”
"Indy Eleven welcomes USACA's national tournament. Along with the recent additions of our North American Soccer League team and the International Champions Cup match featuring Chelsea and Inter Milan, this elite cricket event expands Indianapolis' position as a global sports market,” said Peter Wilt, President and General Manager of Indy Eleven. “The Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway long ago established the city's international presence. The addition of cricket and professional soccer will significantly grow that presence."
Source: Indy Parks, USA Cricket Association