Major League Cricket (MLC), the new Twenty20 competition which aims to boost the sport’s presence in the United States, has set July 13, 2023, as its launch date, while outlining further details concerning its venue development plans.
MLC’s opening match will take place at the newly-constructed Grand Prairie Stadium, in Grand Prairie, Texas. The 2023 season will feature 19 matches to be played over 18 days, building up to the first-ever MLC championship final on July 30.
Six teams from major metropolitan areas – representing Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Seattle and New York City – will each have multiple global stars on their rosters alongside the best talent based in the US.
“Next summer, the eyes of world cricket will be on the launch of Major League Cricket, with the stars of the game competing over three weeks of fast-paced T20 action,” said Justin Geale, MLC tournament director.
“The launch of MLC will transform American cricket and provide one of the best platforms in the sport for the world’s most elite players to showcase their skills while also fast-tracking the development of domestic talent to feature in the league.”
A special ceremony at Grand Prairie Stadium yesterday (Tuesday) marked the installation of the 7,200-capacity venue’s playing pitch, with construction set to be complete in spring 2023. Grand Prairie Stadium, in the works since November 2020 and located in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, will be the competition’s primary venue for the 2023 season and home venue for Dallas’ MLC team.
“Grand Prairie Stadium will be the best cricket venue in the United States upon its completion,” said Ron Jensen, Mayor of Grand Prairie. “This venue will be a huge asset to the Grand Prairie community, bringing Major League Cricket, international cricket and potentially the 2024 ICC T20 Men’s World Cup to Grand Prairie allowing fans here to experience a world class sport in action.”
Grand Prairie Stadium, the former home of the Texas AirHogs American Association of Independent Professional Baseball team, is being converted to a cricket-specific facility at a cost of $20m (£16.9m/€19.3m) with the addition of seats around the oval increasing permanent capacity to 7,200.
The venue will feature 1,000 club and premium seats, with the ability to expand to a capacity of over 15,000 for major events. It is expected to host matches at the T20 World Cup in 2024, set to be co-hosted by the United States and the West Indies.
Work was originally due to be complete earlier this year, but has seen delays that have also resulted in the launch of MLC’s first season being postponed by more than a year.
A host of other US cricket venues are being planned, but ESPNcricinfo reports that slow progress on these could see Grand Prairie Stadium serve as the sole host for MLC’s debut season.
MLC in May completed an initial $44m Series A and A1 fundraising round, with an additional commitment of $76m in further fundraising guaranteed over the next 12 months to support the development of stadiums and training centres across the US.
Major League Cricket in March announced timelines for multiple facility developments, including plans for additional new grounds, as part of its vision to introduce several leading venues for the sport in the United States.