One of the biggest sources of revenue for cricket across the globe has been the affluent Non-Resident Indian (NRI) population, especially from the United States, which has generated millions of dollars for the sport. They have attended India matches in the thousands at all the cricketing centres. Now, one of them has taken it upon himself to create as many as eight cricket stadiums in the US, in an effort to promote the sport within the country.
Indian-American cricket enthusiast Jignesh (Jay) Panda plans to build eight cricket stadiums across the US at an estimated cost of 2.4 billion US dollars.
Pandya, a real estate developer in the US, is also the chairperson of Global Sports Ventures. The eight proposed stadiums, each with a capacity of 26,000, are likely to be constructed in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Illinois and California.
According to Panda, the venture would create 17,800 new jobs in the US.
Gujarat-born Pandya had been travelling across the globe with his two sons to watch cricket matches.
"At most of these venues, me and my sons found the audience mostly from either India or the United States," Pandya says.
"So there is a great market and ready-made audience for cricket in the US," he added.
Americans, he said are the biggest sports lovers in the world. Sports economy in the US itself is to the tune of 87 billion dollars as compared to six billion dollars in India.
All these cricket stadiums in the US, Pandya said would be part of what he described as lifestyle centres which would comprise of high-rise residential complexes, shopping and entertainment centres and office complexes.
He said the objective is to professionalise cricket in the US by creating a league that allows athletes to compete at the highest level while providing fans and audiences the ability to enjoy the game at all these world-class facilities.
"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," Pandya said.
(With PTI Inputs)