Cricket’s real Field of Dreams

Nirav & Dhir Shah, of USF

The Central Broward Regional Park (CBRP), including the stadium and its side fields, cost about US$70 million to build. From the beginning the 110-acre facility generated a lot of opposition to the spending of so much public money on a cricket-purpose facility.

For this reason the facilities were designed and promoted as “multi-purpose,” allowing sports such as soccer and rugby, as well as musical events to be staged there. Annual revenue generated by all sports at the CBRP is far less than the facility’s operating expenditure.

The Stadium has turf wickets, was recently certified by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for hosting One Day International matches (ODI’s) and has a permanent seating capacity of 5,000, with grass seating for an additional 15,000. The main pavilion has two locker rooms, a VIP seating area with large panoramic window views, and a state of the art media and electronic scoring room, while a large electronic scoreboard situated to the left of the main pavilion, has the capability of carrying live video.

The main ground is outfitted with lights allowing for night matches, and there are two side fields in the CBRP with artificial pitches capable of play even after heavy rainfall. Picnic areas, shelters and additional seating abound the facility.

The location of the CBRP is ideal for cricket visitors, near the gorgeous beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, and not far from the nightlife of the celebrated South Beach and Miami areas. Built with the hope of attracting warm-up matches from the 2007 Cricket World Cup held in the Caribbean, the CBRP facility did not get any matches. Cricket in Florida and the rest of American cricket-at-large, has not generated enough cricket in the interim for the spectacular facility, thus the CBRP sees more action from soccer and rugby currently, and generates more revenue from those two sports.

The facility is affordable to local cricketers, it would cost cricketers using the facility a mere $4 a man per game to play in the CBRP, on beautifully manicured outfields. Such a situation begs the question – why don’t local cricketers support the CBRP when soccer and rugby players fill the Park with fun, food and their families ?.Or can the facility be marketed differently to appeal to the local cricketing community? The bottom-line is – What is the cost of not supporting such a fine facility?

Opened in November 2007, the stadium came along at a time when US national cricket was in a holding pattern and it was soon being described as a “white elephant”.

Things changed in March 2009 when the first American College Cricket Spring Break Championshipwas held in the CBRP on the side fields.The New York Times spent three days covering the college championship with a huge article and video – both of which went National and International. Referred to by Sports Illustrated as a “must-see video,” it highlighted the cricket stadium at Central Broward Regional Park as a “Field of Dreams,” for the organizers of the Championship, and the players.

Planning for 2010, American College Cricket had an option to move its Championship, but its commitment to supporting the facility was steadfast. When the stadium and County officials lowered the price American College Cricket took early advantage by reserving the stadium for three days and nights in March 2010. Within close proximity to the beaches and a youth-oriented party scene, the CBRP is ideally suited for a College Spring Break sports event such as cricket.

Now the recent agreement between USA Cricket and New Zealand Cricket could finally bring international cricket to the stadium and the Fort Lauderdale area, with some international matches slated for next year. The economic impact on the commercial area could pay significant dividends for Lauderhill and neighboring towns.The CBRP facility is not even a kangaroo hop from the cricket loving Caribbean, and the area has the right weather forecasts all year round for the “Barmy Army” type cricket followers of the majority of the ICC Full Member nations.

New Zealand Cricket CEO Dr. Justin Vaughn said, “It’s a beautiful ground for cricket. The facilities seem top-notch.” That was an unbiased and ringing endorsement from an ICC Full Member. Bringing the 2009 USACA National League Championships to the park in October was a step in the right direction.

Despite this hopeful future, as recently as this past August, there was a movement to make the CBRP into a Track and Field Park, particularly for the Florida Caribbean Games, it was another attempt to stake claim to the facility by non-cricketing groups.

Appearing before the County Commissioners to speak on behalf of retaining the stadium as a premier cricket facility were Allan Gopie, a local cricketer and radio personality, Miramar City Commissioner Yvonne Garth, Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin, and then Lauderhill Commissioner Joseph Eggelleston, and American College Cricket Vice President Nino DiLoreto.

Nino DiLoreto told the County Commissioners, “The CBRP, the City of Lauderhill and Broward County received valuable exposure as a result of the American College Cricket Championship. We did all of this without asking for any money from the County. As a matter of fact, the Championship contributed much needed revenue to the Park and surrounding businesses. American College Cricket will once again hold its American College Cricket Spring Break Championship from March 17-21, 2010 at the CBRP. I am happy to report that we’ll have a field of 20 Universities from throughout the United States, as well as the University of the West Indies.”

DiLoreto continued, “The South Florida area is a world class tourist destination and has played host to BIG TIME EVENTS such as Super Bowls, World Series, The Breeders Cup, NBA All-Star Games, etc. Now we can add that South Florida will be the home of the American College Cricket Spring Break Championship. This event will attract hundreds of cricket student athletes.The Championship is a win-win event for South Florida, Broward County and cricket fans. To accomplish this we need the cricket facilities to remain intact.”

Such appeals by DiLoreto, Gopie and the County and City Commissioners were successful and cricket remains a prime raison d’être of the Central Broward Regional Park – the only cricket stadium in the USA and Canada.

Still we must be on guard to protect such a fine facility that offers so much in a family-oriented recreational setting. With basketball, netball and tennis courts, in addition to a 1.5-mile walking trail, the facility is an ideal family recreational facility. Children of all ages can enjoy the safe surrounding playground areas, without interrupting the game of cricket. Cricketers and cricket fans – bring your families!

The Central Broward Regional Park is truly a Field of Dreams – OUR Field of Dreams…are we going to support it, or let it be taken away ?

This article was originally published Nov 2009 -written by Lloyd Jodah

Posted by ljodah | 2009,CRICKET TV,NEWS,OTHER STUFF

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