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  • Gary Butterworth

Grand Prairie Stadium - Major League Cricket


Photos by Gary Butterworth, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Grand Prarie Stadium 1600 Lone Star Pkwy Grand Prairie, TX 75050


Year Opened: 2008 (Reconfigured for cricket 2023) Capacity: 7,200

 

The Next Chapter For American Cricket?

When American fast bowler Ali Khan delivered Major League Cricket's first-ever ball in July 2023, he did so in a venue that had just been transformed from a baseball stadium into a venue that aims to transform cricket in the United States. It just may be successful.


Food & Beverage 4

Cricket may have its roots in England, but it can thank South Asia for its status as the world's second most popular sport. The subcontinent's influence on cricket around the world is indelible. On the field, three of Major League Cricket's original six franchises bear the branding of their Indian Premier League backers. The desi flavor is also present in the stands – literally. Foodistan, a small local chain, stocks Grand Prairie Stadium's concession stands with biryani (chicken or vegetarian), samosas, and a handful of other South Asian dishes, as well as traditional American ballpark fare like burgers, nachos and popcorn. Beverage offerings were similarly varied and unique: Arka beer, an "Indian style premium lager," was available, along with a selection of wine and spirits. On the non-alcoholic side, India's Thums Up cola and mango lassi were among the choices that aren't commonly seen in U.S. stadiums.


Though many menu items were uncommon, policies on outside food and beverage were not unusual. Unlike Major League Cricket's secondary venue of Church Street Park in Morrisville, NC, where fans could bring in just about any outside food and many outside beverages, entry policies in Grand Prairie were far more strict: fans were limited to a single factory-sealed water bottle (the maximum allowable size differed depending upon what set of rules one read).


Atmosphere 4

Without question, Grand Prairie Stadium offers the most well-rounded cricket experience in the United States on the field and in the stands.


Broward County Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida, has its pluses: As the United States' first modern cricket-specific stadium, it is to thank for first bringing high-level international cricket to the United States in the 21st century. Its relatively steep, shade-covered grandstands offer a vantage point that some might prefer to those offered by Grand Prairie. But Broward County's ability to draw crowds is inconsistent at best. There is a reason why it was not selected to host Major League Cricket matches.


MLC's secondary venue Church Street Park in Morrisville, NC, draws crowds and has some spectator infrastructure, but its understated charm is in its park-like, community-centered vibe. Few would perceive the venue as "major league."


Moosa Stadium in Pearland, Texas, has hosted a handful of international matches and has bigger aspirations but largely flies under the radar. And few would consider as "stadiums" the grounds hosting Minor League Cricket teams around the U.S. (Don't confuse Grand Prairie with Prairie View 225 miles to the southeast. Prairie View hosts a large cricket complex but provides little in the way of spectator infrastructure.)


Grand Prairie Stadium is not a large stadium like one might find in the UK, Australia, or South Asia. After all, prior to its renovation, it hosted the Texas Air Hogs of the American Association of Independent Baseball.


Approximately the equivalent of the fourth tier in professional baseball's official hierarchy, the American Association is a quality league, but it is relatively small-scale. The conversion of the former AirHogs Stadium to a cricket-specific venue upped the seating capacity from 5,445 to more than 7,000. That's big enough to feel vaguely big-time, but small enough to maintain the intimacy that one won't find in major cricketing countries.

The reconfiguration also added a lot of polish. This feels like a new venue. Look hard enough, though, and a handful of signs of the venue's original purpose remain visible. Why do the upper-level luxury suites have such a strange arc rather than following the natural curve of the playing field? Because they still follow the original baseball foul lines.


The playing surface, lighting system, and players' facilities received good reviews. Similarly, the spectator facilities were pleasant, though not entirely without fault. Texas is hot, and the lack of shade is unfortunate. Air-conditioned areas exist to beat the heat, but they are only available to premium ticket holders. The seating bowl itself is quite shallow in slope, which is unfortunate for those stuck behind someone tall. The video board is only readily visible to fans sitting in the stands that were once the baseball infield. These quirks are worth keeping in mind when purchasing tickets.


The game presentation is top-notch. The passionate young American public address announcer performed well in both Grand Prairie and at the North Carolina venue, providing continuity between both of MLC's host sites. For the final, a team of parachutists delivered an American flag before the match, and a truly spectacular lighted drone show kept fans glued to their seats during the innings break. Details like these show that Major League Cricket truly is dedicated –and funded– to make an impression on the sports world. Grand Prairie Stadium is up to the challenge as host.


Neighborhood 3

The Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex is sprawling and car-centric, and the parking lots surrounding Grand Prairie Stadium can obscure the fact that there is actually quite a bit to do relatively close by, even though most of that is well outside of walking distance.


Without traffic, the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers stadiums are only a 12-minute drive away; Six Flags Over Texas is about the same. But Grand Prairie Stadium has some immediate neighbors, too: it shares a parking lot with Lone Star Park, a horse racing track. Texas Trust CU Theatre at Grand Prairie, a concert venue, sits just next door and is visible from much of the stadium.


A branch of the Texas-based fast food chain Whataburger is nearby and is convenient for out-of-state visitors looking to try a local staple.


Fans 4

There were numerous questions in the run-up to Major League Cricket's inaugural season, but key among them was whether fans would actually turn out to the matches. Fan support was far from a given: when the United States national cricket team hosted its first home One Day International match in 2019, ESPN CricInfo reported a total attendance of just 19 fans at Broward County Stadium in Florida. But MLC had reason to hope: the 3.5-hour T20 format is a different animal, and Major League Cricket offers more star power –and a bigger advertising budget– than the US team. Geography also matters: the Dallas area is home to a large population of expats and immigrants from South Asia's cricketing nations. But initially slow ticket sales, despite discounts on already-reasonable prices, fueled worry that the inaugural season could fizzle.


Those worries proved largely unfounded, as many MLC matches in Grand Prairie ultimately sold out, even after late releases of standing-room-only tickets that were priced higher than some seated options. TV broadcasts did reveal empty seats for daytime matches under the hot Texas sun. But once night rolled in, Grand Prairie Stadium filled up with engaged fans who were eager to wave flags and cheer for their newly adopted teams. The appearance of high-profile Indian-American and Indian business leaders, like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and IPL franchise owner Nita Ambani, further animated the crowd by reminding them that, yes, this is indeed a major league with big-time backers.


Access 4

Grand Prairie Stadium is located between Dallas and Fort Worth and just south of DFW International Airport. This part of the country is not particularly convenient to navigate using public transportation, but fans should have little difficulty driving to the stadium. Parking ($20, cash preferred) is convenient, though fans should note that there are two entrances to the main lot in case one entrance backs up.


Compared to MLC's secondary venue of Church Street Park in Morrisville, NC, the overall experience at Grand Prairie Stadium feels noticeably more Major League. This starts at arrival, as security checks are more thorough and the list of prohibited items is significantly longer. Though not at all out of step with entry policies that have become standard at U.S. sports venues, the checks can lead to lines for entry.


Once inside, a wide concourse rings the entire playing field. Fans with premium tickets can circulate around the full perimeter of the oval, though standard ticket holders will be turned away from exclusive areas of the concourse.


Return on Investment 3

When Minor League Cricket launched in earnest in 2021, cricket fans in nearly two dozen U.S. cities could watch high-quality cricket in person without getting on a plane, and they could do so for free. With the 2023 launch of MiLC's big brother, fans in two U.S. cities can enjoy an even higher level of cricket for a very fair price: for MLC's inaugural season in Grand Prairie, the least expensive tickets ranged from $15 to $40 depending on the match, and discounts were available early in the sale period.


Fans familiar with baseball might liken the renovated, cricket-specific incarnation of Grand Prairie Stadium to that of a high-end AA or perhaps AAA ballpark. However, AA or even AAA baseball stadiums rarely see the star power that Major League Cricket brought in 2023. Considering that such a high standard of cricket would have previously required U.S.-based fans to travel to at least the Caribbean, there is significant value in having this experience available domestically.

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Extras 2

In cricket, bonus runs are known as "extras." Bowlers avoid them; batters'll take 'em. For the first season of Major League Cricket at Grand Prairie Stadium, organizers provided plenty of extras for fans who lined up for them. Eager to attract attention to the league, teams gave away high-quality swag in quantities large enough to drive down the business at the merchandise tables. Why buy a jersey when you were virtually guaranteed a free flag and when you had a high probability of snagging a free cap and t-shirt?


As is also the case in MLC's other inaugural-season venue, the comradery within the diverse crowd merits special mention. Virtually everyone in attendance shared a common interest in a sport that, while niche in the United States, seems intent on establishing a foothold. The eagerness for strangers to connect in the crowd was both noteworthy and special


Final Thoughts

With the completion of Grand Prairie Stadium's transformation, the United States now boasts four cricket-specific stadiums. Though one might not expect a fourth sport-specific stadium to be transformative, Grand Prairie Stadium may very well have that effect on American cricket. Between the quality of the facilities, fan support, and positive media attention, MLC's second season appears secure. Grand Prairie Stadium also appears to be a lock to host matches in the 2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup. There is genuine excitement around American cricket in Grand Prairie, and fittingly, it was an American, Ali Khan, who delivered the first ball here.



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