It’s now the economic development of sport: cricket is back in Triangle

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Editor’s note: Steve S.Rao is an at-large councilor and former Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Morrisville and Opinion Writer for WRAL Tech Wire. He has served on the board of America’s New Economy, now the American Immigration Council, and the Race and Equity Task Force of the NC League of Municipalities. He is a regular contributor to WRAL TechWire.

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MORRISVILLE- A few months ago I wrote a blog about how the sport of cricket is transforming the town of Morrisville into one of the nation’s top destinations for this growing sport.

As I have always said, Morrisville is becoming the cricketing capital of the United States.

This exciting sporting journey continues as the town of Morrisville is set to host the Minor league cricket championships this weekend August 27e and August 28e at Church Street Park.

Saturday’s action kicks off with the Pacific Conference Finals starting at 1:00 p.m. The defending champions, the Silicon Valley Strikers, will face the Seattle Thunderbolts, newcomers to the playoffs this season. The Strikers beat the Chicago Tigers to advance to the conference finals, winning the series 2-1 at Morgan Hill Sports Complex in the Bay Area. Seattle clinched their spot with a display of barnstorming on Sunday, beating Dallas 2-0 at Houston with wins by 33 and 108 points respectively.

Steve Rao

On Saturday evening, cricket will be in the spotlight at Church Street Park, with the Atlantic Conference final kicking off at 5.30pm. Last year’s finalists, the New Jersey Stallions, will take on the Atlanta Fire, who reached the conference finals for the first time. The Fire qualified by defeating the Manhattan Yorkers in a weather-impacted series in Atlanta, earning a 1-0 series victory. The Stallions advanced with a 2-0 sweep of the Morrisville Raptors at Church Street Park on Saturday.

The Finals Weekend Festival at Church Street Park, located just 15 miles from downtown Raleigh, is free for all games. The winning team will take home $150,000 out of a total purse of $350,000, the largest in American cricket history. The schedule for the finals weekend is as follows:

  • Pacific Conference Finals – Silicon Valley Strikers vs. Seattle Thunderbolts
    Saturday August 27 at 1 p.m.
  • Atlantic Conference Finals – New Jersey Stallions vs. Atlanta Fire
    Saturday August 27 at 5:30 p.m.
  • National Championship Final
    Sunday August 28 at 5 p.m.

Live high-definition television and streaming coverage from the final weekend will include premium production from Antares Media for all three matches. All games will be available for free streaming via the MLC Network on YouTube, with a conference final on Saturday and the championship game on Sunday airing on Willow TV’s linear channel, available to millions of homes across the United States. For the first time, live audio commentary from the finals weekend will also be broadcast on 99.94 DM, the innovative ‘home of cricket audio’ launched this summer.

Finals weekend will conclude the second season of the Toyota Minor League Cricket Championship presented by Sunoco, the most extensive competition in American cricket. The tournament launched a new era for the sport in the United States, with 26 participating teams competing in more than 200 games in 20 cities across the country this season, taking place over 10 weekends of play.

The full schedule and list of all 26 competing teams and their breakdown by division is available at www.minorleague.cricket.

Clearly, the outdoor sport of cricket is gaining popularity in the United States

The main objective of the tournament is to give a platform and an opportunity for the best cricketers in America to show their abilities at the national level. The organization also wants to create cricketing communities across the country, the league website States.

I continue to be impressed with the growing fan base that already exists for cricket in North Carolina. Congratulations to my Council colleagues who recently entered into a multi-million dollar partnership with the minor league. The funds will be used to improve facilities and grounds.

Morrisville is home to North Carolina’s only minor league cricket team, the Morrisvile Raptors. Dane Piedt is the captain of the Morrisville Raptors cricket team. After a phenomenal cricketing career in South Africa, Piedt moved to North Carolina to help develop the sport.

As a council member and resident of Morrisville, I look forward to T20 World Cup qualifying and a bright future of cricket to attract more tourists and dollars to our hotels, restaurants and business community. .

We see each other on Saturday!

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