Nov 17, 2022 - Sports

Why Dallas investors are buying into major league cricket

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Local power players and business partners Ross Perot, Jr. and Anurag Jain are among several big investors buying into cricket's expansion in the U.S., which is set to takeoff next summer.

Driving the news: Local and national cricket leaders shared updates Tuesday on the status Major League Cricket and of Grand Prairie Stadium, a former baseball stadium that's being converted into an international cricket ground, training center and home for the USA Cricket National Team and other players.

  • Dozens of people of all ages braved the frigid weather at the stadium site to show their excitement and support for the new league.
  • "It's a historic day for us and for cricket in America," said Justin Geale, MLC's tournament director.

Why it matters: The British introduced cricket to their colonies, including in America, centuries ago. It remains one of the world's most popular sports, but it's lost ground in the U.S. to sports like football, basketball, baseball and soccer.

  • Major League Cricket hopes to make cricket popular in America again.

Details: Major League Cricket's inaugural season will feature 19 matches over 18 days among six teams based in the Dallas area, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Seattle and New York City.

  • Grand Prairie will host the opening match on July 13. The stadium will have around 7,000 permanent seats, with the option of expanding capacity to host over 15,000 fans for big events.
  • By mixing international players with local talent, the league is likely to attract tourists and television rights deals.

Of note: Grand Prairie is also likely to host matches for the 2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup, which the U.S. is co-hosting for the first time with the West Indies.

By the numbers: Perot and Jain's specific contributions were not revealed, but the funds are part of an initial $44 million raised for the establishment of Major League Cricket.

  • The league expects to get an additional $76 million through fundraising by next summer.
What the Grand Prairie cricket stadium will one day look like. Rendering courtesy of HKS

The intrigue: Jain grew up playing cricket in India and dreamt of becoming a professional cricket player, but his father nudged him to focus on his education instead.

  • The opportunity to invest in MLC and expand the sport's reach in the U.S. is a "dream come true," Jain tells Axios.
  • According to Jain, Perot became familiar with cricket through his business ventures in India, where the average value of the Indian Premier League's 10 cricket clubs is over $1 billion.
  • "This is the world's largest sporting market. This is a huge opportunity," Jain says.

What they're saying: "You can feel the energy already in this place for cricket," Mark Williams, who is overseeing the Grand Prairie project for HKS Architects, tells Axios.

  • "Once this opens and people get to experience cricket live — and a lot of people have been waiting a long time for that to happen — then I think it's going to do nothing but expand through this country," he says.

Disclosure: Reporter Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi formerly worked at HKS.


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