Major League Cricket (MLC) has reached an agreement with the City of Grand Prairie to develop the sport’s first world-class stadium in the United States.

MLC, USA Cricket’s exclusive partner for the development of a professional Twenty20 league in the country, has received approval from the Texan city on a long-term lease agreement to begin an extensive redevelopment of AirHogs Stadium.

The parent company of MLC, American Cricket Enterprises (ACE), in cooperation with USA Cricket, the national governing body for the sport, has appointed design firm HKS to repurpose and design the stadium.

The City of Grand Prairie owns AirHogs Stadium, which opened in 2008 as the home of the Texas AirHogs American Association of Independent Professional Baseball team. The Airhogs folded last month.

The stadium, located between Arlington and Dallas, is adjacent to Lone Star Park horse racing track and currently seats a capacity of 5,445. It features 13 luxury suites and what is deemed to be ample space for improved amenities to enhance the experience of fans and cricketers alike.

The stadium will be repurposed to be completely dedicated to cricket, with an increase in the seating capacity planned to accommodate more than 8,000 spectators with additional and upgraded hospitality features.

The redevelopment of the venue is scheduled to take place throughout 2021 before playing host to the Texas MLC franchise that is planned to launch in 2022, as well as a base for the USA Cricket national team and a High Performance Center.

“As the first Major League Cricket stadium in the United States, Grand Prairie represents a seminal moment for the sport in America, and we are incredibly excited to partner with the City of Grand Prairie to bring Major League Cricket to Dallas,” said Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan, co-founders of ACE and MLC.

“Grand Prairie’s centralised location in the US and the thriving Texas cricketing community, allied with the quality of the facility, made it the perfect site for us and we are certain that this is the beginning of a fruitful long-term partnership with the City that will bring much success.”

The new cricket stadium will see the existing baseball diamond converted to an international size and quality cricket field capable of hosting major international competitions, a number of training nets and batting strips added, as well as two additional outside turf fields that will be used for training and by the affiliated MLC academies.

The venue will also be a centrepiece of USA Cricket’s efforts to bring major international cricket events to the United States. It will be part of USA Cricket’s plan to bring the T20 World Cup and other major events to the United States by 2031, in a process that is ongoing as part of a joint bid with Cricket West Indies.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to bring cricket to Texas by converting our minor league baseball stadium,” said Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen. “Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world behind soccer, with a large and growing audience in the States. We look forward to an exciting future with our partners.”

USA Cricket has recently undergone a significant transformation that includes the release last month of the organisation’s first Foundational Plan with a vision to establish cricket as a leading sport in the USA and become a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) by 2030.

Projected to launch in 2022, Major League Cricket, which is exclusively sanctioned by USA Cricket, represents the most ambitious venture ever undertaken in American cricket. Focused on staging the highest quality T20 cricket for US cricket fans, MLC seeks to feature top international cricketers from around the globe, and provide a stage for domestic cricketers to showcase their talents to a global audience.

“In association with our partners at ACE, we now have a world-class facility to develop our domestic talent and help us fulfil the goals we announced in our Foundational Plan,” said Paraag Marathe, USA Cricket chairman.

“The successful development of a cricket-dedicated stadium has long been a priority for us, and it is a significant stride forward for the growth of cricket in America. We also look forward to bringing international cricket events, and the crowds that go with them, to our new stadium, and to help introduce the sport to a broader audience.”

Images: MLC/USA Cricket