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Oakland Coliseum a potential venue for 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup

Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball (MLB) and formerly the Oakland Raiders of the NFL, has emerged as a potential venue for the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the US and West Indies. ICC CEO Geoff Allardice and head of development Will Glenwright recently met with US cricket officials in California, where the idea has been gaining popularity since last year.

Although the Oakland Coliseum, which opened in 1966, lacks many of the luxurious amenities found in most American open-air stadiums built since the turn of the millennium, it has two key features that appeal to cricket administrators. The location, in Northern California’s East Bay just north of Silicon Valley, is home to a burgeoning local cricket scene and a large crowd of foreign cricket fans that administrators hope to tap into.

Another attraction is that the stadium could accommodate up to 53,000 fans, more than twice as many as any currently available purpose-built cricket venues in the US. These include locations eligible to host T20 World Cup games, such as Church Street Park in Morrisville, North Carolina, which is slated for an expansion to accommodate approximately 4,000 fans; as well as the two US ODI locations in Lauderhill, Florida, and the Pearland, Texas suburb of Houston, both of which have a seating capacity of 10,000 (but can be expanded to about 15,000-20,000 with temporary seating). Other venues that do not have ODI status but may be considered include Prairie View Cricket Complex – in suburban Houston – and AirHogs Stadium just outside of Dallas, which has yet to begin renovations since a lease was secured in 2020.

However, before the Oakland Coliseum can host competitions, several logistical hurdles must be overcome. Its location in the Pacific time zone means it is unlikely there will be a match between India and Pakistan, as an 8pm primetime start on TV in India would mean a 7:30am start in California. But the venue could be an ideal choice for the late game in a double or triple header on any given day, which could potentially include another heavyweight clash such as England-Australia to match UK prime time.

Another obstacle is the June slot currently scheduled for the event, which falls in the middle of the baseball season. It would mean that the availability of the Colosseum would depend on the Athletics and the MLB agreeing to schedule a 10-14 day road trip for the Athletics around that time so that the cricket officials have time to get it ready. for the T20 World Cup, including the installation of a drop-in pitch. That timeline would allow no more than two or three matches at the venue.

It wouldn’t be the first time in recent years that a baseball stadium has been used to host a high-profile cricket event. The 2015 Cricket All-Stars T20 Exhibition Tour headlined by Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne featured drop-in fields at New York’s Citi Field (home of the New York Mets), Houston’s Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros) and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Those venues were chosen to attract fans to venues with seating capacities much larger than those in cricket-specific venues such as Lauderhill. All three venues were built specifically for baseball with a restricted foul area and seating close to the field, which as a result meant some extremely short boundaries in the square of the field.

However, Oakland Coliseum’s original design as a shared baseball and football facility means that for baseball purposes it has by far the largest foul area in MLB with the closest seats a significant distance from the field. For cricket purposes, this means square boundaries are right on the boundary to meet the ICC’s minimum boundary dimensions of 55 meters. Similar to Auckland’s Eden Park, if a more thorough inspection finds the limits just below the ICC minimum, officials could apply for an ICC waiver for what would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attract an unprecedented number of fans for a match. in America.

To demonstrate the viability of Oakland Coliseum, local administrators are exploring the idea of ​​hosting exhibition competitions before the end of 2023. If such an exhibition were to go ahead, it would most likely be held in the October-November window after the close of the baseball season, although no concrete plans have been made at this stage.

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