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  • Robbie Raskin

TD Cricket Arena - Global T20 Cricket Tournament

Photos by Robbie Raskin, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

TD Cricket Arena

Brampton Sports Park

7605 Kennedy Rd S

Brampton, ON L6W 4T2

Year Opened: 2018

Capacity: 5,000

Sixes Return to the Six

When you think Canadian sport, hockey is doubtless the one that comes to mind. Maybe lacrosse. But its cricket that was actually Canada's first national sport. Given Canada's history in the British Empire, this may not prove surprising. Canada’s cricketing history is a long one, dating back to at least 1785, when players in Montréal played the first recorded game in the country. Canadian cricket really took off in the early nineteenth-century in Toronto, when the prestigious Upper Canada College cricket team played the Toronto Cricket Club. The series is still contested today. In 1844, the Canadians took on the United States in an international cricket series, decades before the famous Ashes tournament began, and historians suggest the Canada-USA cricket fixture is the world’s oldest international sporting series!

What's new is the late resurgence of cricket as Canada's fastest growing participation sport. By the late-20th century, though, the growth of baseball in the United States spread to Canada, and supplanted cricket, at least as a spectator sport. Although occasional cricket events drew well (including a North American record crowd of over 40,000 at Toronto’s Skydome in 1989), baseball became the dominant bat-and-ball game in Canada. Historic tournaments and infrequent international spectacles maintained interest, but no national league existed to capture the nation’s attention.

Finally, in 2018, Canada became the focus of the international cricketing community with the launch of the GT20 Canada tournament. The first two seasons proved successful, bringing world class talent to Toronto in the summer. Covid threw the league's future into doubt, but the 2023 edition has returned to the Greater Toronto Area and the future looks bright as ever.

The summer tournament is now based out of 'North America's Cricket Capital,' Brampton, in the expanded TD Cricket Arena. 2023's edition features six teams from across Canada and boasts a reputed 150 million television viewers worldwide, helped by the addition of marquee players from places like England, Pakistan, Australia, India, and the West Indies. Cricket's continued boom in Canada seems poised to continue as the GT20 league grows and evolves.

Food & Beverage 5

Hospitality has become a real standout at TD Cricket Arena in terms of both variety and pricing. Food and drinks are largely based out of a beer garden setup with mobile food trucks and tents, with a wide range of multicultural cuisines on offer.

Beer-wise, the options are from Moosehead, with tall cans on offer for a very reasonable $6. If you're after a more extravagant experience, bottle service with spirits is available; Johnny Walker Black Label is available for $175. Amongst the non-alc options, fresh pressed sugarcane juice can be had for $8.

Some standouts from the extensive food offerings include oxtail poutine ($18), Amritsari-style fish and chips ($15), biryani ($10), or Korean short ribs ($27).

The concessions area includes tented tables for fans not wishing to dine at their seats. There are also roving concessionaires with snack items in the seating terraces.

Atmosphere 3

The first thing to note is that although the venue is a permanent cricket ground, most of the setup for the summer is temporary. The large seating terraces, tented hospitality areas, food, and massive logistical undertaking will all be packed up for the year when things are done.

Plans are afoot to construct a permanent stadium but the current setup suits its purpose reasonably well. The stadium itself is on the grounds of the CAA Centre, a multisport complex anchored by a hockey arena (former home of the OHL's Brampton Battalion, current home of basketball's Brampton Honey Badgers, and recent host of the IIHf Womens' World Championships). For the duration of the cricket, lines and lines of fencing separate event zones, parking, and closed areas from parkland and the arena.

Within the stadium itself, the cricket pitch is surrounded on one half by tented private suites and corporate hospitality zones, and by covered seating terraces on the other. Half of the seating is the more comfortable Gold tier, and half are Silver bench-style seats. Ample shade is provided, which is a blessing on a humid summer day.

Entrance is through a box office tent, with a large fan shop on the inside. Access to the seating is quick and straightforward, and views are great throughout the ground.

Neighbourhood 2

CAA Centre doesn't have much going for it nearby, unfortunately. The complex is situated on the edge of an industrial area, next to a golf course and a highway. There are a couple shopping and dining options within walking distance, but nothing standout, and the walk through the industrial complexes would be pretty dreary.

Not too much further afield, though, Brampton's charming town centre offers up great dining, drinking, and entertainment. Anchored by the Rose Theatre and the relaxed Garden Square, the neighbourhood has excellent cafés, restaurants, and little pubs. It's worth making the short trip to the town centre when visiting. Of course, the myriad attractions of Toronto are a short distance away if visiting from out of town.

Fans 3

Attendance through the early rounds has been decent, averaging half-full or better, with fewer in attendance during day games and better crowds on weekends. All of which is to be expected. Crowd sizes tend to increase as the tournament goes on, and sellout crowds will be all but guaranteed in the final rounds.

VIP suites and hospitality zones are very well attended. The fans gathered represent both locals and visitors who've come in to see cricketing stars in Toronto. There tend to be certain clusters of supporters who are more boisterous and beer-fuelled, with other quieter patches throughout the stands. The mood is friendly and fairly energetic.

Access 3

Getting around within the ground is easy, with ample space to manoeuvre. Raised decking along the main pathways is helpful if the grass surrounding the stadium is wet. Washroom facilities are in the form of outhouses, but they are plentiful and clean. Lineups for those were not an issue, nor were food or beer wait times.

Getting into and out of the complex is a little more difficult; long queues of cars are the result of only one entry and exit for traffic. The issue is compounded by ongoing light rail construction on major roads leading to the complex. Police are stationed in the intersections, but the situation is not good when a match lets out.

The aforementioned construction slows down buses in the area too, if arriving by transit. The complex is located along Kennedy Road South, which has frequent Brampton Transit bus service, every 15 minutes or better. It's not a long bus ride from the Bramalea GO Station, where frequent, fast trains link to Downtown Toronto and points further afield. In the future, a light rail line will traverse Hurontario Street nearby, but work is ongoing for now.

Free parking for 800 cars is now offered on the property, which means fans arriving early shouldn't have a problem.

Return on Investment 5

Tickets for the earliest single matches started as low as $5, with single tickets to be had for select midday games from $10. This is exceptional value for any sporting event, let alone one where global superstars are involved. The average ticket range is between $20-$70, depending on seat selection and the match on offer.

Day and weekend passes offer the best value, starting from $38 for midweek matchdays.

Add in free parking, very reasonable beer and food prices, and of course the top-class action on the field, and GT20 tickets offer unbeatable value.

Extras 5

Extra point for being the largest and highest-calibre cricket league in North America.

Extra point for attracting marquee global superstars like Shahid Afridi, Colin Munro, Rassie Van Der Dussen, Alex Hales, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Tim Southee, and others.

Extra point for bringing the tournament back after years lost to Covid. At one point during lockdowns, the tournament was played in Malaysia, then it was cancelled entirely, and now it has returned bigger than ever.

Extra point for the work being done to cement Brampton's status as the cricket capital of North America, including legacy projects in the community in between league play.

A final extra point for the enjoyment of being able to attend GT20 in its relative infancy, knowing this tournament could become a very big deal in the future, but is still young and energetic now.

Final Thoughts

GT20's return to Canada is a both welcome and critically important for the continued rise of cricket in Canada, where it remains the fastest growing participation sport. The chance to see global superstars in an intimate environment, at an accessible cost, on a summer's day... perfect for fans and anyone looking to dabble in the game. Cricket's renaissance in Canada seems well and truly underway and bright days are ahead for the game here.

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