Change to survive - Local cricket clubs diversify as they face financial struggles
Facing a financial crisis, administrators at local cricket clubs say they have been forced to take a wider approach to keep their clubs in operation as they struggle to deal with monthly expenses that climb in excess of $500,000.
This against the backdrop of little or no direct financial support from the Jamaica Cricket Association, pushing clubs to tackle the situation by adopting a more multipurpose approach and placing focus on fundraising efforts, ranging from after-work socials and road races to wall advertising and venue rental.
Mark Neita, president of the Melbourne Cricket Club, which has turned out West Indies stars such as Michael Holding, Courtney Walsh and Marlon Samuels, says his club has put together a 10-year plan which it hopes will lead to greater financial security, while noting that the institution fully understands the need to diversify in the face of scarce revenue potential in local cricket.
"We understand that if we were to just focus exclusively on cricket, then we would not be able to make the revenue needed to sustain a club like Melbourne. You have to see what programmes will work for your club, but if you just focus exclusively on cricket, your club will die because there is not enough revenue from cricket," Neita stressed.
Neita pointed to 12 sponsors who he says play a major role in the club's continued existence, with other revenue streams such as cricket clinics, membership fees, plus an active bar and restaurant also keeping the lights on.
Lucas Cricket Club, another cornerstone in local club cricket, with famous alumni including George Headley and Chris Gayle, according to long-serving vice-president Brian Breese, has also been looking to go beyond cricket to help with the offsetting of expenses.
Among the club's focus is the establishment of a cricket tourism component as well as a focus on community cricket.
"We have tried to expand to more than just cricket. We have a group that comes in the mornings to exercise, and we call them the Lucas joggers. We have people who play table tennis, couple of dart boards and we are always trying to go beyond cricket and to put in a multipurpose court as well," said Breese.
The management is also looking to renting the ground to other cricket teams, while looking to its membership of close to 90 persons to pitch in with membership fees.
Breese, meanwhile, will be heading back to England to work on their cricket tourism business component, which he hopes will help bring visitors from schools and clubs in the off-season from September to March.
According to Breese, they have a partnership with Jason Henzell of Jakes in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth.
TRIP OUT OF TOWN
"The idea is to take them (tourists) out for two weeks and they stay in St Elizabeth and play some matches and help raise funds for the club, where we would have them come to Kingston and play matches, see Bob Marley Museum and other attractions," he confirmed.
Meanwhile, chairman of the Boys' Town Cricket Club Lindel Wright noted that his club, the home of West Indies' Collie Smith, continues to struggle to cope with its massive budget, which, when considering its football team, raises to $14 million a year.
"It is tough going. We are nowhere near 50 per cent of that amount at the moment. We are more than a club, though. We are dealing with the 'have nots' of the society and we operate out of Trench Town," he explained of the 76 year-old club.
"We are struggling. It's day to day. It is terrible. The burden now falls on a number of individuals and stalwarts of the club to assist," Wright bemoaned.