Men and women cricket players in the U.S. now have a shot at becoming full-time, professional cricketers. Today, the USA Cricket Association (USACA) and Global Sports Ventures, LLC announced a $70-million licensing agreement to professionalize the sport in the US and establish a commercial T20 cricket league.
Before the T20 league takes shape, the 20-year agreement will focus on developing local cricketers which includes rewarding top cricketers with contracts to play cricket full-time.
“The first thing we would announce is player contracts for men and women. Women play an integral role in cricket and we want to ensure that players – men and women – can get paid, give their complete focus to cricket, and excel,” said Jignesh Pandya, CEO of Global Sports Ventures, LLC.
Cricket has the highest per user engagement of any sport across ESPN digital platforms. The landmark deal will be a big step toward professionalizing the sport in the U.S.
“From a viewership standpoint, we are the second largest market in the world behind India. The passion of our fans and players will bring this sport to another level. We want to bring professionalism to this game and we believe this is the beginning of a new era,” said Pandya.
The Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Florida is the only cricket stadium in the U.S. approved by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for games featuring full member nations. Pandya said his team is reviewing all options for establishing additional cricket facilities for the T20 league.
“We are currently looking at building new facilities and modifying existing ones. We are going to work out details and make announcements in the coming months but we will take our time to launch a quality product,” said Pandya.
USACA and Global Sports Ventures launched their partnership late this evening in New York City, New York.