Monday, May 27, 2024

First look at nearly done Cricket World Cup stadium in Nassau County

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It’s built. And, next month, they will come for cricket. 

There’s grass on the field and about 32,000 blue and dark-grey tiered stadium seats at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, a temporary venue on a 19-acre site at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

For 11 days beginning June 3, the stadium will be among the venues for the men’s Cricket World Cup, one of the largest international sporting events.

Officials on Wednesday pronounced the stadium game-day ready, even as workers moved about outside and construction vehicles dotted the muddy patches around the structure. 

A first-look event at the new facility included veteran cricket players and others connected with the sport, along with Nassau officials, former New York Knicks star John Starks, and even royalty from another globally popular sport: Usain Bolt, the legendary Olympic sprinter, who is serving as an ambassador for the games.

Brett Jones, the chief executive of U.S. cricket’s T20 USA, Inc., described Wednesday’s first-look event at the modular stadium as “a big day.” 

“We have seen this incredible stadium literally grow out of the ground,” Jones said. “We want to make sure that cricket in the U.S. makes a real statement through this tournament. We know that it’s one of our biggest markets in the world.”

There are 25,000 seats for the general public and about 7,000 exclusive seats. By comparison, UBS Arena in Elmont has 18,500 seats and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum has 16,000.

Among the extra touches at the cricket stadium: hospitality areas furnished with velvet couches and faux marble coffee tables. 

If history is a guide, all eyes will be on Nassau as the tournament heats up.

The sport’s governing body, the International Cricket Council, also known as the ICC, put global television viewership for the Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 at 1.28 billion. 

Nearly 4 million people signed up for an online lottery in February for tournament tickets at venues across the United States and the Caribbean.

The sold-out June 9 match at the Eisenhower Park stadium featuring teams from India and Pakistan is among the most anticipated, according to cricket officials. In March, there were about eight times as many applicants as available seats for the match.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman called the months of constructing the stadium “a monumental undertaking.” 

Referencing the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams,” in which actor Kevin Costner’s character turned an Iowa cornfield into a baseball stadium for the ghosts of Hall of Fame players, Blakeman said: “As you can see, we built it and they will come from all over the world.” 

“Take a look at this stadium. This is something that wasn’t here 90 days ago. It can only happen in Nassau County because we recognized the opportunity and we took advantage of it,” Blakeman said.

The agreement between the ICC and the county calls for construction, which began in February, to finish by May 31 with breakdown completed by July 31. ICC officials said crews will begin to break down the stadium the day after the tournament ends. It was not immediately clear how long it would take to deconstruct. 

It’s similar to the temporary structures used at PGA golf and Formula One racing events that can be easily dismantled, officials have said.

Eisenhower Park will be closed on game days. Kite Field and several picnic areas will be closed for the spring and summer, according to a flyer distributed at the park’s administration office.

Corey Anderson, a cricket player from New Zealand who attended Wednesday’s first look, said he would “love this to be a mainstream sport in the states.”

“I think this country is getting a little taste of cricket culture and what it would bring,” Anderson said. 

County officials have previously said that in an effort to reduce traffic congestion around the venue and in nearby residential neighborhoods, there will be shuttles from Nassau Community College.

Not everyone in Nassau supports the temporary stadium. Some critics who have spoken at county public meetings have noted that it takes facilities away from taxpayers who won’t have access to the park during peak spring and summer months. 

Mark DeFrancesco of Oceanside, who works in production for live sporting events, said he supports cricket and the tournament being held in New York but isn’t confident in the plan to control traffic around Eisenhower Park.

“I’ve been to established stadiums where there are plans in place to compensate for the traffic but that whole area is just going to be gridlocked,” DeFrancesco said.  

Blakeman on Wednesday said the park saw about 40,000 attendees last summer for a Boyz II Men concert. 

ICC officials contacted Blakeman after plans to erect a temporary stadium at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx stalled against opposition from elected officials, community advocates and local cricket players who were against turning over a vast swath of public land to a private entity during peak outdoor months.

It’s built. And, next month, they will come for cricket. 

There’s grass on the field and about 32,000 blue and dark-grey tiered stadium seats at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, a temporary venue on a 19-acre site at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

For 11 days beginning June 3, the stadium will be among the venues for the men’s Cricket World Cup, one of the largest international sporting events.

Officials on Wednesday pronounced the stadium game-day ready, even as workers moved about outside and construction vehicles dotted the muddy patches around the structure. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The new Nassau County International Cricket Stadium is ready for next month’s T20 World Cup, officials said.
  • The competition will take place over 11 days beginning June 3 in the U.S. and the Caribbean.
  • Nearly 4 million people signed up for an online lottery in February for tournament tickets.

A first-look event at the new facility included veteran cricket players and others connected with the sport, along with Nassau officials, former New York Knicks star John Starks, and even royalty from another globally popular sport: Usain Bolt, the legendary Olympic sprinter, who is serving as an ambassador for the games.

Brett Jones, the chief executive of U.S. cricket’s T20 USA, Inc., described Wednesday’s first-look event at the modular stadium as “a big day.” 

“We have seen this incredible stadium literally grow out of the ground,” Jones said. “We want to make sure that cricket in the U.S. makes a real statement through this tournament. We know that it’s one of our biggest markets in the world.”

There are 25,000 seats for the general public and about 7,000 exclusive seats. By comparison, UBS Arena in Elmont has 18,500 seats and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum has 16,000.

Among the extra touches at the cricket stadium: hospitality areas furnished with velvet couches and faux marble coffee tables. 

If history is a guide, all eyes will be on Nassau as the tournament heats up.

The sport’s governing body, the International Cricket Council, also known as the ICC, put global television viewership for the Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 at 1.28 billion. 

Nearly 4 million people signed up for an online lottery in February for tournament tickets at venues across the United States and the Caribbean.

The sold-out June 9 match at the Eisenhower Park stadium featuring teams from India and Pakistan is among the most anticipated, according to cricket officials. In March, there were about eight times as many applicants as available seats for the match.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman called the months of constructing the stadium “a monumental undertaking.” 

Referencing the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams,” in which actor Kevin Costner’s character turned an Iowa cornfield into a baseball stadium for the ghosts of Hall of Fame players, Blakeman said: “As you can see, we built it and they will come from all over the world.” 

“Take a look at this stadium. This is something that wasn’t here 90 days ago. It can only happen in Nassau County because we recognized the opportunity and we took advantage of it,” Blakeman said.

The agreement between the ICC and the county calls for construction, which began in February, to finish by May 31 with breakdown completed by July 31. ICC officials said crews will begin to break down the stadium the day after the tournament ends. It was not immediately clear how long it would take to deconstruct. 

It’s similar to the temporary structures used at PGA golf and Formula One racing events that can be easily dismantled, officials have said.

Eisenhower Park will be closed on game days. Kite Field and several picnic areas will be closed for the spring and summer, according to a flyer distributed at the park’s administration office.

Corey Anderson, a cricket player from New Zealand who attended Wednesday’s first look, said he would “love this to be a mainstream sport in the states.”

“I think this country is getting a little taste of cricket culture and what it would bring,” Anderson said. 

County officials have previously said that in an effort to reduce traffic congestion around the venue and in nearby residential neighborhoods, there will be shuttles from Nassau Community College.

Not everyone in Nassau supports the temporary stadium. Some critics who have spoken at county public meetings have noted that it takes facilities away from taxpayers who won’t have access to the park during peak spring and summer months. 

Mark DeFrancesco of Oceanside, who works in production for live sporting events, said he supports cricket and the tournament being held in New York but isn’t confident in the plan to control traffic around Eisenhower Park.

“I’ve been to established stadiums where there are plans in place to compensate for the traffic but that whole area is just going to be gridlocked,” DeFrancesco said.  

Blakeman on Wednesday said the park saw about 40,000 attendees last summer for a Boyz II Men concert. 

ICC officials contacted Blakeman after plans to erect a temporary stadium at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx stalled against opposition from elected officials, community advocates and local cricket players who were against turning over a vast swath of public land to a private entity during peak outdoor months.

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