Santa Clara County Fairgrounds could have a cricket stadium by 2024
Cricket fans may soon have a hard-to-reach home at Levi’s Stadium or Chase Center.
Santa Clara County and Major League Cricket announced Wednesday they are in extensive negotiations for a “world-class” cricket stadium at the San Jose County Fairgrounds, the first of its kind in the region. The $50 million proposal, according to MLC spokesman Tom Dunmore, would allow up to 15,000 fans to watch a game. Dunmore said his organization expects negotiations to be finalized by the end of the year – and hopes the stadium can open by 2024.
“It’s a great location,” Dunmore said. “And we’re all excited to take the next steps here.”
The stadium would take up just under a tenth of the 165-acre fairgrounds – and would be built on top of the existing parking lot that sits across from Franklin Elementary School on Tully Road. The facility could host World Cup and international matches, Dunmore said, and will include training facilities, luxury suites, concessions and underground parking.
The county also plans to use the site for concerts, Fairgrounds executive director Abraham Andrade said, and an airlift between the main fairgrounds and the stadium is also in the works.
Cricket, originating in England, is played with eleven players from each team on an oval pitch. Each team competes for runs by hitting a ball with a bat out of bounds or when the two batters in the field exchange places on the field. Although the game has not enjoyed the same success in the United States as baseball, basketball, and soccer, it is the most popular sport in countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Major League Cricket’s Dunmore said Santa Clara County was chosen as the location for the stadium because of the fanbase that already exists among the region’s vast Southeast Asian population.
Major League Cricket, which was founded in 2019, is a rising American league that hopes to have its inaugural season in 2023 with six teams nationwide – San Jose being the home of one of those teams. The league, which also plans to create an American national team that could compete with other countries, has already finalized plans for a stadium in Dallas that will begin to innovate in the coming weeks.
The county fairgrounds, located in the Spartan Keyes neighborhood of the city, is the site of the annual fair which has been running since 1944 but has been canceled or scaled back for the past two years due to the pandemic. Also at the fairgrounds are 16 acres of affordable housing, a paintball arena and the county’s largest COVID-19 testing site that serves thousands of residents daily. Housing advocates have long proposed that the vast undeveloped parts of the site be used to tackle the area’s homelessness by building more housing.
Matt Mahan, a San Jose council member who has supported using the fairgrounds for housing, said that with the cricket stadium proposal, he’s glad the fairgrounds are at least being used.
“I’m glad to see the county finally doing more with the fairgrounds,” he said. “It’s been underutilized for decades.”
But he added that the cricket stadium proposal and the accommodation need not be “mutually exclusive”.
“Less than 10% of the pitch (will go towards the stadium),” he said. “And there’s plenty of land left to use for transitional housing.”
Hersh Solanki, a Cupertino resident and self-proclaimed cricket fan who follows the Indian national team, said the stadium’s success depends on how many fans show up.
“They need to increase viewership in the United States,” he said of Major League Cricket. “I would say it’s pretty strong (in the Bay Area), especially given the demographics of that area. Apart from demographics, few people know this.
But overall, he said he was excited about the new stadium.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize the magnitude of the game until they get into it,” Solanki said. “I think there’s all this world that hasn’t been discovered yet. And it’s super exciting when they do.