-- Eight Caribbean nations are racing the clock to meet a March
2007 deadline, convinced that success could swell their visitor
figures by thousands over a two-month span.
For the first
time ever, the West Indies will play host to the Cricket World
The event, 51
matches played by 16 teams over 47 days in nine venues, will kick
off with an opening ceremony in Greenfield Stadium in Jamaica on
March 11, 2007, and wrap up in Kensington Oval in Barbados on April
that will host World Cup matches are Guyana, Trinidad, Antigua, St.
Kitts, St. Lucia and Grenada.
The Cricket World
Cup is held every four years -- South Africa hosted the event in
2003 -- and cricket-playing countries attach as much prestige to
hosting this sporting event as they attach to hosting the Olympics.
not popular in the U.S., engenders fierce loyalty and exuberance
from the millions around the world who play it and follow
always been a binding force among Caribbean people, and this is a
signal opportunity for the sport, which means so much to us as a
region, to unite us in an even more meaningful way, said Ken
Gordon, event chairman and president of the West Indies Cricket
countries, the event poses massive logistical problems in moving
players, officials and spectators to nine different stadiums in a
region not noted for ease of intra-island travel.
In addition, the
event requires a sizable budget, an infrastructure that includes
modern stadiums, accommodations and roads, plus myriad volunteers
and ground arrangements.
officials, while pleased and proud that the Caribbean will play
host, were concerned that such a popular event would reduce room
inventory and airline seats available for regular visitors during
the peak winter season.
originally predicted that upwards of 100,000 cricket-crazy visitors
would descend on the region for the event, which would also be
broadcast to a global television audience of 2.2 billion in 200
countries, with the largest audience in India.
initial prediction of visitors has been downgraded several
In fact, Berthia
Parle, president of the Caribbean Hotel Association, estimated at
the recent Caribbean Marketplace in San Juan that the turnout would
be closer to 10,000 to 12,000 people.
This is a more
realistic figure in terms of visitors who will come for two weeks,
questioned the long-term financial benefits that the region would
derive from hosting the World Cup.
borrowed a lot of money to make this happen, she said. The issue
remains as to whether there will be enough rooms available to
accommodate both our regular winter guests and the cricket
participants. A lot of the megaresorts that are planned just will
not happen in time for World Cup.
As for the
cricket facilities, the current timeline calls for the completion
in October of the major components of the nine stadiums under
construction or renovation.
venue development director, said, We cannot get to that stage
without working purposefully every day, steadily chipping away at
our targets and meeting every deadline.
than 800,000 tickets will be sold for the World Cup events, ranging
in price from $10 for a single match to $300 for the best seats at
the final, only those travel agents and tour operators authorized
by the the International Cricket Council will be able to sell tour
and travel packages (flights, tours, ground transportation,
accommodations and tickets).
The ICC expects
to release the names of OTAs (official travel agents) next month,
according to a spokesman. Individual tickets may be purchased on
the events official Web site, www.cricketworldcup.com, beginning in May.
reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].