Morrisville is betting cricket – the sport – to further ignite economic growth

Editor’s Note: Steve S. Rao is council member and former mayor Pro Tem of the City of Morrisville and opinion writer for WRAL Tech Wire. He has served on the board of America’s New Economy, now the American Immigration Council, and the Race and Equity Task Force of the NC League of Municipalities. He is a regular contributor to WRAL TechWire.

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MORRISVILLE- There comes a time in the life of a town or village when the arrival of a major sporting site triggers the life, energy and vitality of a region.

Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte became the home of the Carolina Panthers and the National Football League.

Baseball fans visit Durham city center to cheer on the Bulls at Durham Bulls Athletic Stadium. You can even go to Zebulon to cheer on the Carolina Mudcats.

Professional soccer continues to thrive at Wake Med Soccer Park in Cary, which served as the home of the Carolina Railhawks and is now home to professional teams North Carolina Courage and North Carolina FC.

PNC Arena, home of the Carolina Hurricanes, brings the top National Hockey League teams to our state.

And let’s not forget the Cary Tennis Park, a world-class tennis facility that hosted the Atlantic Tire Tennis Championships, a $50,000 ATP Challenger tournament. This tournament brings together the best players in the world rankings on the ATP circuit. Some players even come from the US Open to play this tournament.

Enthusiastic fans, booths full of fans watching world-class athletes from professional sports teams can do wonders for the local economy and a community’s brand image.

And now the city of Morrisville joins the list of cities in North Carolina that will host not only professional but international sports! Last week, Major League Cricket (MLC) and the City of Morrisville announced a multi-million dollar public-private partnership to jointly invest in the expansion of Church Street Park, turning the facility into a premier cricket venue. international quality.

What is Cricket?

locust is a bat and ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a domain in the center of which is a 22 yard (20 meter) ground with a counter at each end, each comprising two guarantees balanced on three strains. The game product when a player on the field teamcalled the melon“ball” (propels) the ball from one end of the pitch towards the wicket at the other end, with a “on” be completed once they have legally done so six times. (Wikipedia definition)

The game is very popular in British Commonwealth countries and much of South Asia, especially India and Pakistan.

This most recent investment will see the addition of over 2,000 permanent seats to the scenic spot, increasing Church Street Park’s capacity to over 3,500. The upgrades will also include the installation of broadcast infrastructure at the state-of-the-art technology, additional parking and LED-lit natural and artificial grass training pitches and nets.

John Chambers, left, with Steve Rao

The upgrades will allow Church Street Park to host world-class MLC matches and serve as the flagship facility for USA Cricket National Team matches and training. The venue would meet the necessary criteria to host matches for the 2024 T20 Men’s World Cup, an event seen by more than 500 million cricket fans worldwide. Host sites in the United States are expected to be announced later this year.

Opened in 2015, Church Street Park is recognized as one of the best cricket venues in the United States. The park features an LED-lit natural grass pitch in a scenic setting in the heart of North Carolina’s Research Triangle region, conveniently located just 15 miles from Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham. The venue hosted the inaugural weekend of the Minor League Cricket Championship Final last October, with more than 3,000 fans in attendance to watch the Silicon Valley Strikers claim the title.

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MLC, America’s premier professional T20 cricket competition, represents the most ambitious and transformational endeavor ever undertaken in the American cricket landscape. Focused on staging world-class Twenty20 cricket for American cricket fans, MLC will feature the best players from around the world and provide a stage for domestic cricketers to showcase their talents to a global audience.

Tom Dunmor, Vice President of Marketing for Major League Cricket, in a recent interview with South Asian radio station, Radio Nyra, said: “This investment puts Morrisville not only on the American cricket map, but on the world map as one of the premier cricket destinations in the world. (Tune in at 4 p.m. this Sunday for the interview on 99.9FMHD4, 101.9 FM and 1490AM or www.radionyrausa.com)

These recent upgrades will provide fantastic facilities for ongoing community play, USA Cricket National Teams, and future Major League and International Cricket events. (2/3 Town of Morriville press release, Wil Glenn)

None of the major facilities and professional sports teams I mentioned came about by chance or accident. It took hard work, vision and investment to make these teams a reality for these cities in North Carolina.

The All America City of Morrisville is no exception.

The Morrisville Cricket Journey demonstrates years of commitment from local players and fans, many of whom grew up playing or watching cricket. Like football or baseball in the United States, cricket is the national sport of India and Pakistan. With over 55% of the city’s population hailing from India, it’s only natural that the sport is growing in Morrisville.

THE MORRISVILLE CRICKET JOURNEY

The Town of Morrisville’s cricket journey has been a marathon, not a sprint, as the town has embraced cricket for its community for many years, with Church Street Park a home for the sport since 2015. I have always been proud of our investment in Church Street Park, with its tennis courts, playground, walking path and connection to a beautiful greenway. However, I never imagined that the investment of a cricket pitch on our multipurpose ground would transform the city into a global destination for some of the best cricketers in the world.

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Competitive cricket began in the Triangle in 1997 when the Mid-Atlantic Cricket Conference (MCC) was formed using an open field in Morrisville and other fields along the east coast. MACC teams originally came from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

The Town of Morrisville worked with MCC to launch the first local youth program in 2007. MCC grew until there were enough local teams to launch a separate program, the Triangle Cricket League with their first full season in 2010.

TCL has over 110 teams playing in youth and adult programs in the Triangle area.

Cricket’s momentum has really started to take off in Morrisville over the past couple of years, as the USA team trained at Church Street Park for World Cup competitions and the town hosted the Championships of United States cricket.

Former Morrisville Mayor Mark Stohlman, an avid player himself, has been a strong advocate for the expansion of cricket, along with my council colleagues. My colleague, Board Member Satish Garimella, an immigrant from Mumbai who grew up playing cricket also brought great perspective and insight into our most recent endeavours.

Not even a pandemic has dampened enthusiasm for cricket as the Morrisville Cardinals launched the state’s first professional cricket team last summer. I spent a few hot summer days watching the Cardinal games with Wake County Commission Chairman Sig Hutchison, US Congresswoman Deborah Ross, other elected officials from across the region, and Denny Edwards, CEO of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

Morrisville Cardinals owner Praveen Chakkaraj is very excited about the future growth of cricket with the partnership between Major League Cricket and the Town of Morrisville “The Morrisville Cardinals are proud to have one of the largest fan bases and the most passionate of Minor League Cricket, and these improvements will provide spectators with an even better experience in the beautiful Church Street grounds. The improved playing and training facilities will also support our work to develop young players to professional and compete for U.S. national team spots (Morrisville press release, February 3, 2022)

Going forward, I see opportunities to partner with Wake County to receive hotel occupancy tax dollars to fund even more expansions, much like we did with the Wake Competition Center, the center of training for the Carolina Hurricanes. I can’t think of a better time than now, as we emerge from a pandemic, to bring fans from across the country and the world to the Triangle area to watch cricket. Professional cricket and world cup tournaments will support our local hotels and restaurants and accelerate a stronger and more vibrant post-covid economy.

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As Musical Score in Rent reminds us, a year is counted in minutes. 525, 600 to be exact.

Our city, the Triangle Cricket League and the players have spent millions of minutes developing the game of cricket, resulting in a multi-million dollar investment that sends a message to the world:

In North Carolina, we think big and are ready to receive investment from anywhere in the world.

Morrisville Cricket’s journey demonstrates resilience, not just about how we bounce back, but how we bounce back during a pandemic.

We look forward to many more minutes of playing and watching cricket and developing this game.

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