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USA gets a cricket stadium in Lauderhill, Florida
by Dreamcricket USA
Nov 12, 2007
Lauderhill; Friday, November 9 2007

What started as an idea in 2000 has transformed into reality in 2007. The much anticipated Central Broward Regional Park, serving the communities of Lauderhill, Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale Lakes, Oakland Park, Plantation, Sunrise, and Wilton Manors was opened to the public in a ceremony befitting the Park's status as the area's engine for economic growth.

A ceremony to dedicate the park to the residents of Broward was held on Friday, November 7, amidst media and dignitaries including Josephus Eggelletion Jr (Mayor of Broward County), Bob Harbin (Director of Parks and Recreation), Ilene Lieberman (Commissioner District 1), Richard Kaplan (Mayor of Lauderhill), Samuel S Brown (Mayor of Lauderdale Lakes), Larry Gierer (Mayor of Oakland Park), and Rae Carole Armstrong (Mayor of Plantation). Entertainment was provided by the Dillard High School Jazz Band.

Some 2,000 Broward residents witnessed the opening and everyone present were impressed by the size of the park and its many exciting facilities.

Speaking on the occasion, Mayor Eggelletion thanked everyone involved in his rousing speech and said that the park symbolized a "promise that was kept," adding that Broward County children now had access to a real stadium "and residents can watch an instant replay of their grandchildren scoring a goal or a touchdown on a giant screen."

The stadium

Flag ceremony - Stadium opening
The crown jewel of the 110-acre park at the intersection of State Road 7 and Sunrise Boulevard is the 5,000 seat multi-purpose stadium, which can be expanded to 20,000 if needed. Billed as the first international cricket venue in USA, the main pitch and the outfield are now being completed to comply with international standards and the adjoining practice pitches are ready.

Cricket events coming soon

It certainly looks like it may not be long before this new park hosts international cricketers.

In fact, on the opening day, an event promoter, Bobby Refaie was seen distributing brochures for what he called "the ultimate cricket experience" to be held from January 18th to January 20th 2007 featuring several well known international and local cricketers.

"The inaugural Martin Luther King T20 event is going to be the first major cricket event at this stadium and we sure hope that it is the beginning of many such tournaments at this venue," said Bobby Refaie, who is a former USA Cricket Association official, and has already conducted several major cricket events in USA including a highly popular Double Wicket Tournament in Houston starring big international names like Shahid Afridi, Wasim Akram, and Kumar Dharmasena; as well as USA cricketers like Faoud Bacchus and Amjad Khan.

Local press also quoted Lauderhill Vice Mayor Dale Holness as saying that he was in talks with ICC and WICB to bring a Twenty20 tournament early next year. It was not clear if the WICB involvement would be part of the aforementioned MLK T20 event or a separate event.

Click here for a video. [More pictures at the bottom of this page]

Multi-purpose

As expected of such a huge undertaking, the park has critics as well as supporters. Despite assurances from County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion that the park could provided a much needed economic boost to the area's economy, some local residents complained about the strong Caribbean influence on the park and thought the park was a waste of money. On the other hand, the area's residents including some 100,000 of Caribbean origin, most of whom are ardent cricket fans, were optimistic about the park and hoped that it would put Lauderhill on the world cricket map.

Indeed, all the speakers on the opening day reiterated the multi-purpose aspect of the park. And the proof was there for everyone to see on Saturday when children in the hundreds used every available field and court at the park. Tennis, netball, football, basketball and soccer were all played on Saturday. In fact, a handful of cricketers were seen patiently waiting for their turn to use the soccer field that also has a cricket pitch. The park, which was just another AT&T owned vacant lot, was bustling with so much activity a day after its opening that this writer from New Jersey came away completely envious of Lauderhill.

The park's features read almost like an Olympic venue map! The stadium aside, the park has an aquatics complex featuring an instructional swimming pool, a boat rental facility, four lighted soccer fields or football dual-purpose fields, which can also be used as two cricket pitches, courts for netball, tennis, and basketball. There are seven picnic shelters, two corporate pavilions, two shaded playgrounds for kids and two miles of nature trails including a 10 acre lake that would permit fishing, which Mayor Josephus Eggelletion pointed out to his amused audience "was catch and release only."

Sports aside, plans are already underway for additional features including shopping and arts. A clock tower and 30 ft waterfall are also being completed. Attendees of the opening ceremony talked excitedly about a future Caribbean themed mall called the Carishoca.

A $70 Million park

Hurricane Wilma nearly wrecked the park's plans and inflicted cost overruns, which almost derailed the project in 2006. The county cut back on some features and paid the contractor an extra $7.5 million so that the project could be back on track. According to Bob Harbin, Director of Parks and Recreation Division, the county ended up paying some $70 million for land acquisition and construction. The park was built with a 45% minority participation, with Atlanta based HJ Russell (represented at the opening by their justifiably proud employees and their boss Mike Russell) and Broward County based Seawood Builders. HJ Russell had worked on Georgia Dome and Turner Field and Seawood is a local name that had worked with T.Y. Park in Hollywood.

Some useful park information

Admission: Free on weekdays. $1.5 per person on weekends and holidays (children 5 and under free). $ 8 max charge per vehicle (up to 9 occupants) and $20 for a commercial bus.

Directions: Click here for directions and other information

The alcohol policy: Beer and wine is permitted but only in designated areas. Other alcohol prohibited throughout.

Coming soon - MLK T20 - Ultimate Cricket Experience

When: January 18th, 19th, 20th 2008

Where: Central Broward Regional Park

Who is playing: Top cricket players from India, Pakistan, West Indies, etc.

Schedule

Friday, January 18th: Match 1 - Pakistan vs West Indies; Match 2 - India vs Rest of the World

Saturday, January 19th: Match 3 - India vs West Indies; Match 4 - Pakistan vs Rest of the World

Sunday, January 20th: Match 5 - 3rd and 4th place; Match 6: Final

Tickets: Prices will range between $10 to $30 and will include concert, music, food, beverages.

Brought to you by: Lauderhill MLK Task Force, MAQ Group, SFCA, CCUSA, Broward County Florida Parks and Recreation Division

Pictures:

Broward County Mayor Josephus Eggeletion speaking at the inauguration




A delegation from HJ Russell (the company that built the stadium)




Children representing various sports that can be played at the stadium




Cricket is a big part of the stadium plans




Fanfare marked stadium opening




Lauderhill Mayor Kaplan presents Lauderhill flag to Broward Mayor Eggelletion




Left of pavilion




The Pavilion




Left of pavilion




Park coordinator and former diplomat Chandradath Singh with a delegate from Australia




Cricket is big business for Chub Bedessee. Seen with his nephew and niece




Lord's has its Father Time, Broward has its spectacular clock tower




The dramatic pavilion complex




Residents and spectators at the opening
 
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