CPL banks on Caribbean diaspora for T20 success in Lauderhill

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Chief Operating Officer of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20 (T20) tournament Pete Russell says hosting matches in Florida is an effective way of tapping into cricket-loving markets in the United States.

This year’s HERO CPL, the fourth edition of the tournament, is set to stage games outside of the Caribbean for the first time.

Six matches are scheduled for Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida between July 28 and 31.

RUSSELL…what’s interesting is that we went on sale with tickets [approximately two weeks ago] and already we’ve sold close to 5,000 tickets
Pete Russell said what’s interesting is that CPL went on sale with tickets [approximately two weeks ago] and already close to 5,000 tickets have been sold
CPL T20 organisers believe the move is a recipe for success. They are banking on grabbing the attention of some of the hundreds of thousands of people with Caribbean heritage living in Florida, especially with the heavy concentration in and around the city of Fort Lauderdale.

“I think it’s fantastic. We know there’s a huge fan base in America, and more importantly, there’s a huge Jamaican following in Fort Lauderdale and the surroundings. We’re very excited about the prospects of playing there,” said Russell.

CPL’s introduction to Florida is set to be the second high-profile cricket venture in the US market within the last 12 months, following the Cricket All-Stars Series — a promotional tour involving mostly retired legends — in late 2015.

Attendance fees for any sporting event in the US can be costly.

For that promotional tour, ticket prices were generally high. In Los Angeles, the cost of a ticket was said to range from US$50 to US$325.

CPL has kept prices starting as low as US$23 per ticket in a bid to lure fans into the venue.

To add spice to the pot, the games in Lauderhill will coincide with the business end of the tournament’s preliminary phase when teams are likely to be jostling for play-off places.

Russell, who has been a part of CPL since inception, said the combined sale of tickets over the four match days has already been promising.

“What’s interesting is that we went on sale with tickets [approximately two weeks ago] and already we’ve sold close to 5,000 tickets. That’s a phenomenal achievement in a short space of time.

“We know there is an audience there, and on top of that there are a lot of cricket-loving fans who don’t get to see international players very often, if at all,“ said the CPL operating chief.

The full fixture list for the 2016 CPL is to yet to be released, but the tournament is expected to run from late June to early August.

The six franchises are Trinbago Knight Riders, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Barbados Tridents, St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, Jamaica Tallawahs and St Lucia Zouks.

Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel, who underwent a name change to Trinbago Knight Riders for this season, won last year’s tournament. (Jamaica Observer)

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