Leighton Levy, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The general consensus is that the inaugural season of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has been a resounding success.
The season that came to an end last night with Jamaica Tallawahs facing Guyana Amazon warriors, saw rabid cricket fans filling seats from Guyana to Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados and has drawn praise from West Indies Cricket Board president Dave Cameron.
"The support of the Limacol CPL by the West Indian fans has been overwhelming and this is evidenced by the sold-out crowds at each and every match so far. That says to me that the interest and passion for the game is still there, and it's our responsibility to continue to nurture that love, which is what the CPL is all about," said Cameron.
"In addition, the entire world has come to play through the global reach and appeal that the tournament has achieved. The combination of some of the best regional and international T20 players with the amazing carnival, party-like atmosphere for which the Caribbean is renowned has turned the eyes and ears of the world to our shores, and we could not be more pleased about that exposure."
a commercial success
Even more important, the inaugural season of the CPL has been a commercial success as well. For years the WICB has staged regional tournaments before empty seats and with little or no sponsorship support. The CPL has changed that.
"It's a truism to say that with West Indies cricket, responses have been rather sparse over the past decade. If you look at our commercial programme, we have sold it out and we have a number of great Caribbean brands that have supported us," said the CPL's 43-year-old commercial director Jamie Stewart. "We've got some brands that are new to cricket, brands like Guardian, who've never sponsored before, Courts, who have never sponsored before, as well as having cricket heritage brands like Scotiabank, Busta and Digicel, of course. Limacol came like a bolt from the blue for everybody and they have been terrific for the league in a number of ways, and they have really put their weight behind it. So commercially, it has far exceeded anyone's expectations."
commercial team sponsors
Stewart revealed that they have also signed more than 30 commercial team sponsors for the event.
"Going from a base of zero which is where West Indies Cricket was coming from, it's a pretty impressive outcome for us, so we are delighted with that. The sponsors are absolutely delighted with the product and the experience so far."
Going forward, Stewart says, there is need to work on a few things to make the CPL even better. "We have to get our television distribution on a slightly broader footing next year, but now we have the product that's going to be a lot much easier."
The feedback from broadcasters, he said, is that it is the most entertaining thing they have seen on television.
"You are very lucky in the Caribbean to have a surfeit of attractive people who really know how to have a good time. Television is a visual language and the fact that the people of the Caribbean are having such a great time at the event, if you don't mind me saying it bluntly, the number of beautiful women attending the game, had broadcasters calling me saying, 'We want to book a flight to Trinidad, how do we get there'?"