0Caribbean Premier League Chief Executive Damien O’Donohoe has said filling up the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida, with 10,000 fans on four consecutive match days in July, will be the primary factor in determining if the league returns to Florida.
O’Donohoe said a World T20 victory for West Indies will hopefully have spurred greater interest in the first CPL matches being played in the USA, from July 28 to 31 in Lauderhill.
“Looking at American sports and looking at foreign sports coming in, what has always been a success is when the best players in the world are there,” O’Donohoe told ESPNcricinfo. “You look at the All Blacks, rugby is relatively unknown and yet they filled Soldier Field. Cricket is largely unknown but coming in with the world champions gives us a real leg up and I think it’s going to really turn the heads first of the Caribbean people and people of cricket nations but also hopefully it’s going to turn the heads of some US baseball fans to come.”
The CPL’s arrival in Florida will be the second high-profile expedition in the US market in the last year, following the Cricket All-Stars tour in November 2015. High ticket prices – ranging from $50 to $325 in Los Angeles – meant that only the first game at New York’s Citi Field had more than 50% of seats filled.
Sales in Houston and Los Angeles hovered at around 10,000 – in stadiums with capacity of 41,500 and 56,000 respectively – until 48 hours before each game, when organisers slashed prices for their remaining inventory by 50% and also gave away thousands of free tickets to help build up crowds.
O’Donohoe said he observed the strategy used in the All-Stars tour and hoped the CPL experience would be better for fans, with two-thirds of tickets priced at $30 or less. Tickets for the Florida games went on sale on Thursday, almost four months ahead of the July slate – compared to the five-week period before the All-Stars tour.
“I think with the Cricket All-Stars, you looked at New York and that’s always a market that can take a very high ticket price but with the other two venues it didn’t exactly work,” O’Donohoe said. “We’ve always been of the opinion, with the CPL, that we want to make it accessible to everybody and we don’t want to price anyone out because CPL can be enjoyed by people of all ages. That’s why we’ve gone with a very low entry price ticket for the US so that all cricket fans can be there.”
O’Donohoe is also planning for players, including the six USA and Canada players who received CPL contracts this year, to visit local schools for cricket clinics and is also targeting cross-promotional opportunities with other local sports teams – such as having Chris Gayle and Andre Russell participate in a batting practice session with the baseball team Miami Marlins.
“As part of our sanctioning fee, which we had to pay the ICC to play the games, every penny of that is going into local initiatives to promote cricket locally in the Broward County area,” O’Donohoe said. “Also, we do school visits as part of CPL, which has been a really successful initiative.
“I think no matter what you do, if the stadium is not full, then you haven’t really done your job. We’re really putting our neck out there in terms of bringing these games to the US. It’s a huge investment from our side. We’re the first professional league to go in and we’re doing everything we can to make people aware that these games are happening. I really hope that we get the people to turn out and support what’s going to be a historic couple of days.” (Cricinfo)