Hosting the six-week, 48-match Cricket World Cup turned out to be a trying experience for the Caribbean.

The event ended April 28 at Kensington Oval Stadium in Barbados with the Australian team defeating the cricket boys from Sri Lanka.

But controversy and criticism swirled around the sporting event almost from the beginning.

The murder of Pakistan's cricket coach in his hotel room made headlines around the world. The early elimination of teams with large and loyal followings led to hotel cancellations. Generally, ticket prices were high and crowds were lower than anticipated.

"The word is disappointment," said Alec Sanguinetti, executive director of the Caribbean Hotel Association. "The low turnouts were not forecast. I think history will look back and write this one up as a disappointment."

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was murdered in his room at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on March 18, the day after Pakistan was eliminated.

A pathologist who conducted Woolmer's autopsy said that he had been strangled. No suspects have been identified. The chief investigator described the investigation as a "huge and complex" inquiry, which will take time to unravel. Woolmer's body was released April 23 and returned to his native South Africa for burial.

Pakistan's exit from the tournament was followed by India's loss to Bangladesh. The loss triggered a floodgate of cancellations by hundreds of cricket fans in India who had planned to come to the Caribbean.

The host West Indies team also lost its shot at making it to the semifinals, triggering hotel cancellations. "Hotel cancellations were an issue," Sanguinetti said. "The hotels that had drawn up booking contracts spelling out deposit structures and cancellation penalties were OK. However, those properties that did not require contracts and nonrefundable deposits are the ones that are suffering."

Some properties in Barbados, such as the Divi Southwinds Beach Resort and the Accra Beach Hotel & Resort, required full payment in advance of the event.

Sanguinetti said that hotels in Barbados, Grenada and Jamaica were hard hit, as were those destinations themselves. "There was and will be a loss of revenue on these islands, and it has a trickle-down effect," he said.

Attendance was an issue, as well. The loss of overseas visitors, coupled with ticket prices that many locals complained were too high, hurt attendance.

Malcolm Speed, CEO of the International Cricket Council, defended the pricing of tickets.

"This was a world sporting event between major teams. The prices were fixed by the local organizing committees. Our only input was to say that we would like more tickets at the bottom end of the price range."

Critics said that high-priced food and drink and stringent rules about what could be brought into the stadiums robbed the event of its Caribbean flavor and spirit, keeping crowds away.

World Cup officials, reacting to criticism, attempted to ease some restrictions. A re-entry policy was introduced, allowing fans to come and go from match venues. The restriction on fans bringing food into the stadiums also was eased. Due to security restrictions on the size of bags and backpacks, food items had to be in proper containers.

Officials also waived restrictions on bringing musical instruments into stadiums, such as conch shells, horns, drums and trumpets.

For the most part, CWC passed the locals by while the international cricket fans either stayed away or left early. Instead of a revenue-producing event for the region with hoteliers, restaurants and local economies benefiting from the arrival of thousands of overseas visitors, they were left to lament the lack of business.

The 2011 Cricket World Cup will be co-hosted by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].


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