The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) plan to host the 2024 T20 World Cup, featuring the clash between India and Pakistan, in New York has left broadcasters in a state of turmoil. Despite huge investments in media rights for the tourney, the ICC’s decision to hold a World Cup in a country where First Class cricket is not a regular event is putting cricket’s most lucrative property at a significant risk.
The West Indies and the United States will jointly host the 2024 T20 World Cup. The ICC granted these hosting rights long before selling rights for events in the 2024-2027 cycle began. However, ICC’s recent proposal to stage 17 matches of the competition solely in the USA has raised concerns.
With just nine months left before the scheduled commencement of the World Cup, no venue has received official confirmation. This delay is mainly due to the absence of a proper venue in the first place. The ICC’s attempt to create a venue for the New York match, despite the lack of cricket infrastructure, threatens to undermine the credibility of the T20 World Cup.
The quest for an appropriate venue led the ICC to explore Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York City. Plans to construct a temporary 34,000-seat venue in the park were initially underway. The construction was set to commence in January 2024 and the structure was to be dismantled after the World Cup. However, the Van Cortlandt Park plan encountered significant opposition from various Bronx community groups.
A senior ICC official admitted that the Van Cortlandt Park proposal faced numerous challenges. The idea of risking a high-profile match like India vs. Pakistan at a makeshift venue seemed unwise. While a venue inspection team is currently exploring alternative open spaces in the area, no concrete decision has been reached.
A report in The Guardian titled “They’re big, bad bullies’: New York’s bitter fight over a 34,000-seat cricket stadium” highlighted the complexities involved in the Van Cortlandt Park plan. Critics, including Adrian Benepe, New York City’s former parks commissioner, deemed the stadium proposal “completely unrealistic and unprecedented.”
ICC’s proposal suggested a major sporting event taking over a public park for free. They would charge spectators hundreds of dollars for tickets, a notion previously unheard of in New York.
When questioned about the venue situation in the USA, the ICC provided no definitive response. They stated that they would announce the West Indies and USA venues in the coming month.
As the 2024 T20 World Cup approaches, the uncertainty surrounding venues in the United States remains a pressing concern. The ICC’s desire to host a significant portion of the tournament in the USA raises questions about how and where these matches will take place.
Currently, only two venues in the USA appear prepared to host international cricket. Dallas boasts a seating capacity of over 5,000. Lauderhill, with approximately 5,000 seats, can accommodate an additional 10,000-15,000 spectators in open spaces. However, neither venue has received ICC approval for World Cup fixtures, leaving the situation unresolved.
Woodley Park in Los Angeles is also being considered, but substantial modular work is required to transform it into a suitable cricketing venue.
The ongoing uncertainty in the United States, coupled with the challenges faced in New York, underscores the urgency for the ICC to address the critical issues of where and how the 2024 T20 World Cup will take place. All stakeholders are anxiously awaiting a resolution to ensure the success of this prestigious tournament.