Former Grand Prairie AirHogs ballpark to become major cricket stadium

Major League Cricket (MLC) is coming to North Texas.

MLC has received approval from the City of Grand Prairie on a long-term lease agreement to begin an extensive redevelopment of AirHogs Stadium as the organization’s first major cricket stadium in the United States.

The parent company of MLC, American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) — in cooperation with USA Cricket, the national governing body for cricket in the United States — has retained HKS to repurpose and design what will be the second professional-level cricket stadium ever built in the United States.

One of the best sports performance facilities in minor league baseball during its previous life as the home of the Texas AirHogs, the soon-to-be renamed stadium will now become a dedicated world-class cricketing facility. The redevelopment of the venue is scheduled to take place throughout 2021 before playing host to the Dallas franchise of Major League Cricket that will launch by 2022, as well as the headquarters of USA Cricket and its premier high performance center.

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“As the first Major League Cricket stadium in the United States, Grand Prairie represents a seminal moment for the sport in America, and we are incredibly excited to partner with the City of Grand Prairie to bring Major League Cricket to Dallas,” said Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan, co-founders of ACE and MLC, in a news release. “Grand Prairie’s centralized location in the U.S. and the thriving Texas cricketing community, allied with the quality of the facility, made it the perfect site for us and we are certain that this is the beginning of a fruitful long-term partnership with the city that will bring much success.”

The venue will be a centerpiece of USA Cricket’s efforts to bring major international events to the United States, including regional International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup and T20 World Cup Qualifiers, and International Series against Canada and other contemporary nations.

The stadium will also be a featured aspect of USA Cricket’s effort to bring the ICC World Cup to the United States by 2031, the second largest global sporting event by TV viewership, in a process that is ongoing as part of a joint bid with the West Indies.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to bring cricket to Texas by converting our minor league baseball stadium,” said Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen. “Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world behind soccer, with a large and growing audience in the states. We look forward to an exciting future with our partners.”

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At its Nov. 17 meeting, the Grand Prairie City Council approved a resolution authorizing a Fifteen-Year Tenant Lease with Option to Renew for two Ten-Year Terms with MLC Dallas Stadium Co LLC for the Conversion Construction and Operation of a Cricket Stadium in the Entertainment District for a base rent of $20,000 monthly for 80 months, and $10,000 monthly for the Remainder of the Lease and percentage rent of 5% of Gross Revenues; Economic Development Agreement for a Cash Grant of $1,300,000 for Construction, a $200,000 Maintenance Reserve, waiver of all construction building permit fees and impact fees, and a 100% rebate of the 1% General Fund sales tax for construction materials; Consent to Easement and Use Agreement between MLC Dallas Stadium Co LLC and Anschutz Texas L.P. for related construction on ancillary land.

The redeveloped stadium is slated to be ready for cricket in Spring 2022, but will serve as a key high performance center for the USA Cricket Men’s and Women’s National Teams in the interim. The National Teams and other key youth and zonal cricket squads will be able to use it for training during that time.

The Men’s National Team is currently ranked 19th in the world, having gained One Day International status for the first time in 2019. The USA Women’s National Team will be attempting to qualify for the Cricket World Cup for the first time next year, having advanced to the global qualifier in 2019.
“In association with our partners at ACE, we now have a world-class facility to develop our domestic talent and help us fulfill the goals we announced in our Foundational Plan,” said Paraag Marathe, USA Cricket Chairman. “The successful development of a cricket dedicated stadium has long been a priority for us, and it is a significant stride forward for the growth of cricket in America. We also look forward to bringing international cricket events, and the crowds that go with them, to our new stadium, and to help introduce the sport to a broader audience.”

Honored by Baseball Digest as the Best New Ballpark in 2008 following its inaugural season, AirHogs Stadium served as the home of the Texas AirHogs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball for 12 years.

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The stadium currently seats a capacity of 5,445 and features 13 luxury suites and ample space for improved amenities to enhance the experience of fans and cricketers alike.

The stadium will be repurposed to be completely dedicated for  cricket, with an increase in the seating capacity planned to accommodate more than 8,000 spectators with additional and upgraded hospitality features.