An ardent admirer of cricket of an Indian-American origin, Jignesh Pandya, has announced his plans to set up eight cricket stadiums across the United States to popularise and give a professional character to cricket in the country. The estimated cost of the project is said to be USD 2.4 billion.
According to Jignesh (Jay) Pandya, chairman of the Global Sports Ventures, the stadiums are going to be built in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Illinois and California with each of them having the capacity to hold as many as 26,000 people. He also added that these new stadiums would approximately create 17,800 job opportunities.
Pandya, who hails from Gujarat is a real-estate developer in the United States and he and his two sons travel around the world to watch cricket at popular venues. He said that at most of these venues, he found the spectators to be either American or Indian.
He said, “So there is a great market and ready-made audience for cricket in the US.”
Pandya also feels that Americans are the biggest sport lovers in the world. Adding weight to this statement, sports economy in the US demands a whopping USD 87 billion which is way higher than the USD 6 billion in India. He added that these cricket stadiums would be a part of what he calls lifestyle centres and they would comprise high-rise residential complexes, shopping centres and also office complexes.
Pandya added that his main objective was to make cricket a profession in the United States and that he would do it by creating a league that would enable athletes to compete at the highest level and at the same time, making it possible for spectators and fans to enjoy these games at these world class stadiums. “This will be a strong foundation when the International Cricket Council (ICC) hosts any tournaments in line with its strategic framework for USA cricket, potentially hosting the ICC World Twenty20 in 2024,” he said.
In 2015, USA was a witness to one of cricket’s most unique spectacles when retired legendary cricketers came together to play a 3-match series under their respective captains – Legendary Aussie leg-spinner Shane Warne (Warne’s Warriors) and the iconic Indian willow-wielder Sachin Tendulkar (Sachin’s Blasters) were pitted against each other. Also, in 2016, there was a T20 match between India and the West Indies played out in the United States which was very famous for its high scores in both the innings. West Indies had sneaked out with a victory by a solitary run. With somebody like Pandya willing to invest in the development of cricket in the United States, that day might not be far when cricket would be a global sport involving a large number of countries.
(With inputs from PTI)