Futuristic cricket venue to bowl over Texans


US Texas new cricket stadium Image: USA Cricket

A state-of-the-art cricket stadium will come up in the United States. In this regard, Major League Cricket (MLC) has struck a deal with the City of Grand Prairie in Texas to develop the sport’s first world-class venue in the United States. As part of the deal, redevelopment work of the AirHogs Stadium in Texas is due to start in 2021.

Major League Cricket is an upcoming Twenty20 cricket league in the United States. Operated by American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) and sanctioned by USA Cricket, it plans to begin play in 2022.

MLC, USA Cricket’s exclusive partner for the development of a professional Twenty20 league in the country, has got the nod from the Texan City on a long-term lease agreement to begin an extensive rehabilitation of AirHogs Stadium in Texas.

AirHogs Stadium is a stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas. It is primarily used for soccer as the home of the USL2’s Texas United. Prior to 2020, it was used mainly for baseball as the home of the American Association’s Texas AirHogs, who were the primary tenants from 2008 to 2020. The City of Grand Prairie owns AirHogs Stadium.

Texas United is an American soccer club that currently competes in USL League Two, the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid. The Texas AirHogs were a professional baseball team based in Grand Prairie, Texas, in the United States from 2008 to 2020. The AirHogs were members of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball (MLB). The Airhogs folded last month.

The 5,400-seater AirHogs Stadium was one of the best facilities in Minor League Baseball (MiLB) during its previous life as home of the Texas AirHogs.

The parent company of MLC, American Cricket Enterprises (ACE), in tandem with USA Cricket, the national governing body for the sport, has appointed design practice HKS to reconfigure and design the facility.

The stadium sits between Arlington and Dallas and is adjacent to Lone Star Park horse racing track and its present capacity stands at 5,445. It enjoys 13 luxury suites and what is deemed to be ample space for improved amenities to provide an exhilarating experience to fans and cricketers alike.

The arena will be totally redecorated and will be solely dedicated to cricket, with an increase in the seating capacity planned to fit in more than 8,000 spectators with additional and upgraded hospitality features.

The revamp work of the facility is scheduled to take place throughout 2021 before the venue plays host to the Texas MLC franchise that is planned to launch in 2022, as well as serve as a base for the USA Cricket national team and 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, and we are incredibly excited to partner with the City of Grand Prairie to bring Major League Cricket to Dallas,” stated Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan, Co-Founders of ACE and MLC.

“Grand Prairie’s centralized location in the US and the thriving Texas cricketing community, allied with the quality of the facility, made it the perfect site for us and we are certain that this is the beginning of a fruitful long-term partnership with the City that will bring much success,” affirmed the duo.

The new cricket stadium will see the existing baseball diamond transformed into an international size and quality cricket field capable of staging major international fixtures, a number of training nets and batting strips added, as well as two additional outside turf fields that will be used for training and by the affiliated MLC academies.

The venue will also act as a centerpiece of USA Cricket’s bid to bring major international cricket events to the United States. It will be part of USA Cricket’s plan to bring the T20 World Cup and other major events to the United States by 2031, in a process that is ongoing as part of a joint bid with Cricket West Indies.

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is the international championship of Twenty20 international cricket. Organised by cricket’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), the tournament currently consists of 16 teams.

Noted Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen, “We are very excited about this opportunity to bring cricket to Texas by converting our Minor League Baseball stadium. Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world behind soccer, with a large and growing audience in the States. We look forward to an exciting future with our partners.”

USA Cricket has recently undergone modifications that include the release last month of the organization’s first Foundational Plan with a vision to establish cricket as a leading sport in the USA and become a full member of the ICC by 2030.

Projected to launch in 2022, Major League Cricket, which is exclusively sanctioned by USA Cricket, represents the most ambitious venture ever undertaken in American cricket. The focus is on staging the highest quality T20 cricket for US cricket fans, and the MLC also seeks to feature top international cricketers from around the globe, and provide a platform for domestic cricketers to demonstrate their cricketing skills before a global audience.

“In association with our partners at ACE, we now have a world-class facility to develop our domestic talent and help us fulfill the goals we announced in our Foundational Plan,” said Paraag Marathe, USA Cricket Chairman.

Marathe added, “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. 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.”

Grand Prairie is being touted as an ideal location for a premier cricket stadium in Texas, with its strong cricket fan base and demographics in surrounding areas as well as having a favorable time zone for broadcasting in major international cricket markets.

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