The hopes of putting cricket on the crowded map in a sporting landscape in the US has been given a significant shot. The Knight Riders Group, have agreed to a major investment in American cricket in partnership with American Cricket Enterprises (ACE).
This long-term strategic partnership will include financial investment and significant expertise. This is designed to help ACE develop and launch Major League Cricket in the USA.
The Knight Riders are among the most successful brands in T20 cricket around the globe. For such a prominent player in the sport to recognize the potential for professional T20 cricket in the United States, it can only help the product to grow and prosper. Surprisingly, American cricket could even find itself listed in the betting lines at the best sportsbooks in Vegas.
During the past decade, the Knight Riders Group has become synonymous with world-class T20 cricket. The Kolkata Knight Riders won the Indian Premier League (IPL) title in 2012. And again in 2014, displaying their dominance on the pitch.
This isn’t the first time that they’ve reached across the Atlantic Ocean to invest in the growth of cricket. In 2015, the Knight Riders expanded their cricket empire. They became owners of the Trinidad & Tobago T20 franchise in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
That side has won four CPL titles over the past six seasons, culminating in an unbeaten campaign to win it all during the 2020 season.
The major backers of the Knight Riders are legendary Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla. Chawla’s husband Jay Mehta, head of the Indian-basd multinational corporation the Mehta Group, is also an investor.
In fact, Khan believes that the American market offers untapped potential to the sport of cricket.
“For several years now, we have been expanding the Knight Riders brand globally and closely watching the potential for T20 cricket in the USA,” Khan said in a statement. “We are convinced that Major League Cricket has all the pieces in place to execute on its plans and we look forward to making our partnership an enormous success in the coming years.”
Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore believes that the United States market has limitless potential for the growth of cricket. And believes that the sport can plant roots and develop in a similar fashion to the way Major League Soccer has blossomed across North America.
“We feel fortunate to have been consistently recognized as one of the best franchises in T20 cricket and have become one of the fastest-growing sports brands in the world,” Mysore said in a statement. “As T20 cricket expands internationally, we are flattered by the regular inbound requests to play a major role in growing the sport abroad.
‘We have had a keen interest in the developments in the United States and our expansion into the U.S. is consistent with our long-term strategy.
“We look forward to the new challenge of building cricket in the world’s most sophisticated sports and media market and we believe that we can bring a huge amount of expertise to help make Major League Cricket realize the potential that it undoubtedly has.”
Launching in 2021, Major League Cricket will be the USA’s premier Twenty20 tournament. However, it’s anticipated that it will represent the dawn of a new era for cricket in the United States.
Henceforth, MLC will be featuring six teams from major cities across the country. Rosters will consist of world-class international talent, who will play alongside the top domestic players in the USA.
It promises to be the answer for what US cricket fans have been demanding. With games broadcast right across the globe, cricket in the US will now be on the world stage.
Presently, ACE has made a $1 billion commitment to growing the sport in the USA. The money will be invested in cricket in the country over the next decade. ACE is backed by the founders of Willow TV and by Satyan Gajwani and Vineet Jain, the principals of The Times of India Group.
The Times of India Group is the largest media conglomerate in the second-most populous country in the world. With more than four million subscribers, Willow TV is the main U.S. broadcaster for major international cricket.
USA Cricket is working in tandem with ACE to help develop the game domestically. They are also trying to identify stadiums for the minor and major league cricket circuits.
Interestingly, many minor-league baseball stadiums around the country are being converted into cricket pitches.
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