SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – A proposal to build a new cricket stadium in the Bay Area could help bring one of the world's most popular sports to a new audience.
This week, Santa Clara County approved an "exclusive negotiating agreement" with Major League Cricket.
The ENA allows the county and the league to "move forward with lease negotiations and design approvals to develop a world-class cricket stadium" near the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.
Major League Cricket is eyeing the 14-acre parking lot, along Tully Road, across the street from the iconic blue arch. The parcel has been used as the county's largest COVID-19 drive-thru testing site since the onset of the pandemic.
"It's a tremendously exciting day for cricket in the Bay Area," said Tom Dunmore, Vice President of Marketing for Major League Cricket.
According to Dunmore, cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, with large followings in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and across South Asia. The league was drawn to the South Bay's "strong, grassroots fanbase".
"There's obviously a very large immigrant population from those countries in the Bay Area, particularly around Silicon Valley. A lot of the tech companies have employed large numbers of people from those locations who have come here. That's accelerated a lot over the last 10 or 15 years. So that's seeded a really strong base of expat cricket fans that love the game," said Dunmore.
Early concept renderings show a large, circular stadium, with palm tree-lined promenades. The stadium would likely feature permanent seating for 6,000 to 8,000 fans, with the ability to scale up to 15,000 for larger events such as the World Cup. The facility would also feature state of the art locker rooms and luxury suites.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee told KPIX 5 that the plan is to lease the land and not use any public funds for the project.
"We are not planning to subsidize the stadium," said Lee. "The negotiations just got started, so everything is still very much on the drawing board. Ultimately, what we want to do is make the best use of the land. But at the same time, we weren't expected, that I'm aware of, to shovel a lot of county funds to help build these facilities."
The South Bay is home to several amateur leagues who play on municipal fields. Kunal Chakraborti, acting president of the Sunnyvale Cricket Club, said fans who attend the MLC games with other family members would easily fill seats at the new stadium.
"I was really happy, it was really exciting news," Chakraborti told KPIX 5. "It's very exciting to have a quality stadium because that could act as a catalyst for the youth to generate interest, to pick up the game, to play the game, and hopefully to rise up to the regional level, the national level."
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