MLC officials presented their plans to reconstruct the baseball diamond into a professional cricket field. According to the plan presented to the Grand Prairie City Council on Tuesday, the groundbreaking event will take place in late March or early April with construction expected to be completed sometime in the first quarter of 2023.
MLC and city officials announced plans to convert the 15-year-old baseball diamond into a cricket oval in 2020. The facility hosted the AirHogs from 2008-2020, playing in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball (AAIPB) but had to cancel the season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The team became one of six teams to pull out of the AAIPB later in the year, according to the team's Facebook page.
"It's an interesting project," says MLC vice president of marketing Tom Dunmore. "I don't think anyone's actually done it before. So there's no road map for it."
The cricket stadium will have amenities such as luxury suites and premium seating and it will host regular MLC matches and finals as well as other entertainment events, according to the presentation.
Dunmore says the stadium will host several cricket matches throughout the year with games in the MLC and U.S.A. teams' as well as minor league, semi-pro and international clubs taking to the pitch. There's even a good chance the new spot could be a host for the Cricket World Cup. Those plans haven't been announced for the 2024 World Cup, but Dunmore says they expect the stadium to be host candidate.
"We expect this to be a showcase stadium ... It should have a lot of play throughout the year." –MLC vice president of marketing Tom Dunmore
"We expect this to be a showcase stadium," Dunmore says. "It should have a lot of play throughout the year."
The MLC's decision to build its showcase stadium in Grand Prairie came about due to a "mix of factors," Dunmore says.
One big factor is the active presence of the sport in North Texas with organizations such as the Dallas Cricket League and the North Texas Cricket Association.
"The demographic of Dallas and the Dallas area more broadly have changed over the last couple of decades," Dunmore says. "There's been a lot of immigration especially from South Asian and other commonwealth countries' diaspora. There's going to be growing interest in cricket with teams taking parts in matches across the area."
Just like the local high school and professional football, baseball and basketball teams, Dunmore says there is a strong fan support for cricket that will only get bigger after the new stadium opens.
"There's a demographic that's incredibly passionate about cricket," Dunmore says. "It's not just that cricket is a sport that popular. It's as big in India as football is in America. They're obsessed with and love the sport. They watch it here in the middle of the night and play in leagues on the weekend. Dallas is certainly in the top five for that population and for cricket fans in the U.S."
Dunmore says the MLC expects the arena will make the city a major destination for cricket teams and fans.
"The MLC is really excited about this and our partnership with Grand Prairie has been fantastic," Dunmore says. "We're excited to get the shovels in the ground and start building."