Sports

Major League Cricket Broke in the Playing Pitch At Its New Grand Prairie Stadium

Major Cricket League stars (from left) Liam Plunkett, Chand Unmukt and Ali Khan helped break in the pitch at Grand Prairie's new cricket stadium.
Major Cricket League stars (from left) Liam Plunkett, Chand Unmukt and Ali Khan helped break in the pitch at Grand Prairie's new cricket stadium. Major League Cricket/Tim Heitman
The first stage of construction for Grand Prairie's new cricket stadium is complete.

City leaders and members of Major League Cricket (MLC) commemorated the completion of the pitch (that boxy thing in the middle of a cricket field) on Tuesday for its new cricket stadium, which once housed home games for the Texas AirHogs baseball team.

“Grand Prairie Stadium will be the best cricket venue in the United States upon its completion,” says Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen. “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.”

Construction crews will build out the cricket stadium with a completion goal of May 2023 and plans to hold its first official match on July 15. The inaugural gameday will kick off 18 days of 19 matches ending on July 30 with the first MLC Championship.

"We wanted to get that in so we could kick off playing in July," says MLC Tournament Director Justin Geale.

MLC and city officials announced back in February its plans to convert the 15-year-old vacant baseball stadium into a professional cricket oval at a cost of $20 million, making it a premiere destination for cricket teams across the country and the world.

"We're gonna have a lot of global interest," Geale says. "There's a lot of players who are interested to see what's happening here so it's really put Grand Prairie on the market."

The facility will hold 7,200 fans, with space for 1,000 premium seats and expansion plans to reach a maximum capacity of 15,000. The stadium will host regular and preseason cricket matches from teams throughout the world. The Grand Prairie stadium will also house one of six U.S.-based cricket teams by next spring, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Seattle and New York City. Dallas will also host its own cricket team in the MLC. The team's name and mascot will be announced early next year.

Geale points out that the sport already has millions of fans, including many in the U.S., so getting Americans into cricket won't be as hard a sell as one might think.

Having a professional cricket stadium in our backyard will also attract some famous players, and their fans and friends are sure to follow. Tuesday's event included appearances by some of MLC's biggest new players including British cricket star Liam Plunkett, Indian-American player Chand Unmukt and Pakistani-American player Ali Khan.

"What makes for a successful first season is if we get repeat fans and push out a great product on TV," Geale says. "One of our unique properties is we can attract the best players in the world right now. We can really have 10 or 12 of the top 20 players in the world playing in America." 

Geale says he's also confident that Texas fans will pick up cricket once the sport gains steam at its new Grand Prairie home.

"Another great thing about this stadium is in 2024, the U.S. is hosting the Cricket World Cup with the West Indies," Geale says. "That hasn't been here because they didn't know where to play it, so Grand Prairie is going to become the premiere event in the country. That's gonna be another season for the community and in terms of exposure."

Anurag Jain, one of MLC's principle investors, says he expects Dallas will show up to root for its home team once the stadium gets going.

“Major League Cricket’s arrival in the summer of 2023 will bring professional cricket to the United States for the first time here in the Dallas area,” Jain says. “We’re proud that Dallas will have its own team for Texas to root for in Major League Cricket, playing at a world-class cricket venue that will also serve the passionate local cricket community.”
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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