Councilor raises questions about cricket group’s track record

The USA Cricket Association, a group that Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard hopes will bring high-level competition to a new $6 million local sports park, staged zero national tournaments in 2012.

The organization also lost funding from the International Cricket Council because it violated governance rules, according to ESPNcricinfo.

Officials in Broward County Florida have blamed a lack of success at their cricket stadium — the only internationally certified venue in the United States — on a lack of cooperation from USA Cricket.

That information is well-known to Indianapolis officials, said David Ladd, who is the volunteer “ambassador” for Ballard’s cricket initiative, which dates back to 2009, and the Indianapolis World Sports Park, which is being designed for lacrosse and hurling, among other sports. Yet, Ladd is still hopeful that Indianapolis will land a national or international event to the far-east-side park. He said he’s met with USA Cricket’s new executive director, Darren Beazley, several times since Beazley’s appointment early this year.

“He’s got a new attitude, a new approach. He’s got a good relationship with the ICC,” Ladd said.

Beazley, based in Lake Worth, Fla., did not return phone messages. He told the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel in April that the Broward County venue shouldn’t expect more than one or two international matches a year because teams have postseason commitments around the world.

“If we’re dependent on them, I’m worried,” said Republican City-County Councilor Christine Scales, a caucus renegade who co-sponsored with Democratic Majority Leader Vernon Brown a proposal to use $6 million from the Rebuild Indy fund to hire a new class of police recruits.

Scales said she expects Ballard to veto the proposal, but she signed on as a co-sponsor to make a point about the administration’s spending priorities. She sent Ballard’s staff a barrage of questions about the city’s relationship with USA Cricket on Friday.

Director of Enterprise Development David Rosenberg’s response was to shift the emphasis away from cricket, Scales said. In a presentation to the Republican caucus before the council met Monday night, Rosenberg noted that every field in the World Sports Park will also accommodate soccer.

He also pointed out that Indianapolis is competing with communities like Westfield, which is building a massive youth sports complex, Scales said.

Scales said she still has questions about how much Indianapolis will have to spend to bring major events to the park and how the city will cover those expenses.

Ladd said USA Cricket’s fees and other requirements are a matter of negotiation, which will be headed up by Jen Pittman, deputy director of the parks department. Pittman could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.

Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter also could not be reached for comment.

Sports marketing consultant David Morton said USA Cricket’s track record is “bothersome to some extent,” but he said he thinks it can be surmounted if the city works closely with the Indiana Sports Corp.

The city needs a strategy to address the fact that corporate sponsors generally do not take an interest in sports with low rates of domestic participation, Morton said.

“They need a business plan,” he said.

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