Tanya Lee | Let's truly show our support to Jamaica Tallawahs
So the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is in full swing, and what a treat we got at Sabina Park for the two matches that came and went this week on Tuesday and Wednesday night. There were fun and frolic at Sabina Park for die-hard cricket fans and casual T20 viewers alike, but if you blinked twice, you may have missed it.
And just like the wind, the team is scooped out of Jamaica to play their remaining matches in Fort Lauderdale. While there are many Jamaicans who find it inexplicable that a franchise could play their home matches outside of their country, the main argument within itself seems logical. If this is a Jamaica franchise, why aren't all the home matches being played in Jamaica?
Truth is, the CPL is a global business, and so are the franchise teams. The Jamaica Tallawahs are the franchise associated with Jamaica, yes, but this does not mean all the home matches must be played in Jamaica. The franchises are essentially a business not tied directly to any nation. This would explain why the St Lucia Stars are captained by Trinidad's Kieran Pollard and why Chris Gayle plays for the
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots. It's the stuff franchise sports are made of.
In speaking with a few insiders of the Jamaica Tallawahs team, they have explained that the Fort Lauderdale matches form part of their strategy to globally expand cricket in South Florida. There are some 70,000 persons living in Lauderhill, and many of them are Jamaicans, so there is an expectation that throngs of Jamaicans will attend the CPL matches.
The Fort Lauderdale matches aren't new to the CPL or to West Indies cricket for that matter. I was in attendance at one of the CPL matches in Fort Lauderdale at the Central Broward Regional Park two years ago and the crowd was predominantly Jamaican. The West Indies played in South Florida in 2012 against New Zealand, in 2014 against India and only last month against Bangladesh. I suspect this is part of a long-term strategy to globally expand the brand to the diaspora.
Comparatively, while the atmosphere is great at Sabina Park, most of the CPL matches that I have attended over the past three seasons are at less than 70 per cent capacity. Jamaicans can do better in supporting our team.
But global expansion aside, this writer has also assumed that there are financial considerations at play here, given that one of the sponsors of the Tallawahs team is the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
It is my understanding that the CPL franchises are supplemented by sponsorships and government support. I may have missed it, but I have not seen anywhere that Jamaica has financially contributed to the franchise this year.
As a marketer, I've done some of the math, and it's clear that gate receipts from Sabina Park cannot financially sustain the franchise. First, just the salaries for players account for US$803,000. Consideration has to then be given to other salaries, including those of the coaches, the physiotherapists, and the operations team. There are also costs related to travel and airfare, accommodation, meals, and all other expenses that a franchise will typically have to factor in.
So from where exactly has the Tallawahs team got this support? They have listed four sponsors and only one is Jamaican. Kudos to Foska Oats, a long-standing sponsor of the Tallawahs team. The other Tallawah sponsors are non-Jamaican brands. They include Carib Beer out of Trinidad & Tobago, El Dorado Rum out of Guyana, and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Bureau out of the United States.
I suspect that the Jamaica Tallawahs team has no intentions of moving all the home matches to Fort Lauderdale. This would be foolish, especially as CPL is growing at Sabina Park based on Wednesday's match attendance. But I do think we could all play a greater role in keeping cricket alive in Jamaica, and that's probably easiest achieved through government, sponsorship, and spectator support, from Jamaica, for our team. Let's truly show our support.