Cricket Canada sets sights on building stadium

Cricket Canada president Ranjit Saini

By Frederick Halley

 TORONTO, Canada — Cricket Canada’s maiden Global T20 tournament, set to be played here in July, will see spectators being accommodated in makeshift structures but plans are on stream to construct a stadium by the time the third segment is staged in 2020.

According to Cricket Canada president Ranjit Saini, “a few million dollars” have been committed by Mercuri Group, an Indian company that acquired the Master Licence Agreement to manage the league with Cricket Canada, for the purposes of building a stadium, though full costs including an exact location have not been identified.

The three-week tournament, which precedes the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), set to commence on August 8, has been given the green light by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and will be played at three venues across Toronto.

The three venues earmarked are Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club, Sunnybrook Park and Maple Leaf Cricket Club.

Reflecting on the last T20 All Star tournament, held at the Rogers Centre in 2012, which saw several players suffering financial losses, Saini assured that such disorganisation would not happen with the Global T20 Canada.

The Cricket Canada president said that the league had enough investment backing from Mercuri Talent Management Private Limited, an Indian media and entertainment business with offices in Pune and Chennai, to operate the league in the initial few seasons.

According to Saini, agreements are scheduled to be signed shortly with team owners while pointing to the fact that Mercuri has the capacity at this time to own all the teams themselves and lease them out to different management.

Saini pointed out that the league is currently owned by Mercuri while Cricket Canada has given it the authority to own, sell or lease. The Global T20 Canada would be the first franchise league held completely in North America.

Meanwhile, Cricket Canada has also distanced itself from reports about claims made by Toronto businessman Roy Singh to start his own T20 franchise league in Canada, a proposal not sanctioned by the ICC or Cricket Canada.

Saini recently told the Caribbean Graphic here that the idea for a Canada-based annual international T20 League was first hatched as far back as 2009, during his initial term as president of what was then the Canadian Cricket Association. His relative lack of market knowledge and experience however, resulted in his adoption of a formula which proved to be unattractive to its financial sponsor, whose support would have been mandatory for its survival.

Following his ouster from the presidency after the ill-fated 2011 World Cup, Saini told Caribbean Graphic that in his absence the new board seemingly had no interest in hosting an international T20 League and as such the plans that he had formulated were discarded until his eventual return to the Board, initially as a Director, then subsequently for his second term as president.

Having been given a second chance and armed with the valuable experience of the impractical first attempt, he was determined to get it right this time around.

West Indians Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo as well as New Zealander Brendon McCullum are three of the players listed to participate in the tournament.