Major League Cricket: Revolutionizing Cricket in the United States. Cricket, a sport deeply ingrained in the hearts of millions worldwide, is now making its mark in the United States with the introduction of Major League Cricket (MLC). As an upcoming professional Twenty20 cricket league, MLC aims to popularize the sport and engage fans across the nation.
In this article, we will delve into the history, teams, and the exciting prospects that lie ahead for cricket enthusiasts in the United States.
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Cricket, often regarded as a niche international sport in the United States, is set to undergo a transformation with the introduction of Major League Cricket (MLC). Operated by American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) and sanctioned by USA Cricket, this professional Twenty20 cricket league aims to create a dynamic and captivating cricketing experience for fans across the country.
The inaugural season of MLC is scheduled to commence on July 13, 2023, with matches taking place at Grand Prairie Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas, and Church Street Park in Morrisville, North Carolina.
The Journey Begins: History of Major League Cricket
The idea of establishing a domestic T20 cricket league in the United States had been brewing for years. Several attempts were made in the past, including the short-lived Pro Cricket, which played a single season in 2004, and the American Premier League, a proposed league in partnership between the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) and New Zealand Cricket.
In January 2019, USA Cricket took the reins as the new governing board for cricket in the USA, replacing the USACA. This marked a significant step forward for the sport, with the goal of expanding its popularity beyond its niche status.
USA Cricket announced its intention to establish a domestic T20 league in the country by 2021, aiming to engage existing fans and attract new ones while developing cricketing infrastructure across the United States.
In May 2019, American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) secured a US$1 billion investment, paving the way for the development of Major League Cricket.
The partners involved in this ambitious venture include prominent figures like Satyan Gajwani, Vineet Jain of The Times Group, and Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan, founders of Willow TV. ACE also took charge of commercial activities for T20I and ODI matches hosted by the United States as part of the agreement.
The Teams of Major League Cricket
As MLC prepares to kick off its inaugural season, six teams representing major U.S. cities will compete under a single-entity model. The chosen cities are Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. These cities were identified by USA Cricket’s CEO Iain Higgins as markets where cricket already enjoys a considerable following.
While MLC begins with six teams, there are plans to expand to eight teams in the future, following the model of other successful T20 leagues around the world. The league adopts a single-entity structure, with all teams owned by ACE and assigned investor-operators who have invested in the company.
The Road Ahead: Plans and Prospects
Major League Cricket has its sights set on revolutionizing the sport’s landscape in the United States. The league aims to not only entertain cricket fans but also nurture and develop local talent, creating a sustainable cricketing ecosystem.
In February 2021, MLC announced plans for a comprehensive player development program, including Minor League Cricket Youth and Major League Cricket Youth leagues. These initiatives provide a pathway for young players to progress towards Major League Cricket and the national team.
To ensure the success of Major League Cricket, ACE has secured substantial funds. In May 2022, MLC announced that it had acquired $120 million in its Series A and A1 fundraising rounds.
These funds will be utilized primarily to build state-of-the-art stadiums and first-class facilities, thus accelerating the development of cricket across the United States.
On November 18, 2020, it was announced that ACE would lease AirHogs Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas, which was previously home to the Texas AirHogs independent baseball team. The stadium would undergo a conversion to become a cricket-specific facility, hosting a team from Dallas in Major League Cricket (MLC).
In March 2022, ACE revealed plans to invest $110 million in constructing or renovating eight venues for MLC.
These venues were also considered as potential hosts for matches during the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, which the United States is co-hosting with the West Indies.
Among the venues mentioned were the Grand Prairie Stadium, Church Street Park in Morrisville, Moosa Stadium in Pearland, Prairie View Cricket Complex in Prairie View, and new sites in Orange County, the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, and Marymoor Park in Redmond, Washington.
The renovated venues were allocated a budget of approximately $3 million each, while the three new west coast venues were allocated a budget of $30 million each.
ACE aimed to complete the west coast venues by 2024, with a projected seating capacity of 10,000 to 20,000. However, as of November 2022, construction had not yet commenced on the proposed venues, aside from Grand Prairie Stadium.
In February 2023, it was reported that most of the matches for the 2023 season would take place in Grand Prairie, Texas, with Church Street Park serving as a secondary venue. Due to the intense summer heat in Texas, matches were scheduled predominantly as night games to attract audiences, particularly from cricket-loving countries like India.
With the announcement of the 2023 schedule, it was confirmed that a portion of the group stage would be played at Church Street Park. However, due to a curfew on the use of floodlights, these matches would begin in the early evening.
Minor League Cricket
Minor League Cricket, a developmental league for Major League Cricket, completed its inaugural season in 2021 (originally scheduled for 2020 but delayed due to COVID-19). It consists of 26 franchise-based teams divided into four regional divisions. Unlike Major League Cricket, Minor League Cricket operates through privately-owned franchises.
Major League Cricket is poised to change the landscape of cricket in the United States. With its upcoming inaugural season, the league aims to engage fans, develop local talent, and establish a sustainable cricketing ecosystem.
By bringing cricket to major U.S. cities and providing a platform for players to showcase their skills, MLC is set to captivate audiences and make its mark in the world of professional cricket.
Get ready to witness the excitement and passion of Major League Cricket as it kicks off on July 13, 2023. Join us in celebrating the growth of cricket in the United States and embrace the thrilling journey that lies ahead.
List of current teams
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q1. When does Major League Cricket’s inaugural season begin?
Major League Cricket’s inaugural season is set to begin on July 13, 2023.
Q2. How many teams will participate in Major League Cricket?
Six teams representing major U.S. cities will participate in Major League Cricket’s inaugural season.
Q3. Are there plans to expand the league in the future?
Yes, Major League Cricket aims to expand to eight teams in the future, following the model of other successful T20 leagues worldwide.
Q4. What is the objective of Major League Cricket?
The objective of Major League Cricket is to popularize the sport of cricket in the United States, engage fans, and develop local talent.
Q5. How will Major League Cricket contribute to the development of cricket in the United States?
Major League Cricket has secured substantial funds to build stadiums and facilities, accelerating the development of cricket across the United States.