More than five years after Broward County opened the nation's first internationally certified cricket stadium, promoters can count on one hand how many international matches have been held there — and still have three fingers to spare.
It's unlikely things will get better any time soon for the $10 million multipurpose stadium at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, although it was sold to taxpayers as a high-profile, tourist magnet.
So far, the stadium has produced less than $100,000 a year in rental and parking revenues, mostly by hosting lower-level competitions, local cultural events and various sporting attractions. Tourism officials say cricket generated only $3 million last year, barely a half-percent of the county's sports-based tourism dollars.
"We told them repetitiously it wasn't going to draw the hype they were stating," said Lauderhill resident Alan Brown, who supported the park but not the emphasis on cricket. "They focused all their energy into something they felt was going to be an economic boon."
The stadium was promoted by local cricket enthusiasts and endorsed by U.S. and Caribbean cricket officials who saw it as a natural draw given the area's sizeable Caribbean population. It is being paid for through a voter-approved $400 million park bond passed in 2000 and is part of the $72 million regional park, the county's most expensive.
Observers cite the lack of a stadium business plan, ignorance about how the cricket world operates, and an uncooperative national cricket organization as reasons for not drawing the international matches that would fill the stadium and area hotels and restaurants . . .