Major League Cricket can’t be built only on basis of diaspora in US: KKR CEO Venky Mysore

Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore said the Knight Riders group will play an active role in helping build USA’s Major Cricket League, expected to launch in 2022. Mysore said that the proposed league will aim to make the sports lovers in the United States follow cricket rather than depending only on the strong South Asian diaspora in the country.

The Knight Riders group, co-owned by Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla, announced their foray into Major League Cricket as they joined hands with American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) for a stake in the league. Venky Mysore, speaking to Sports Today on Tuesday, said the association is long term and the Knight Riders will play the role of a consultant in developing the 6-team league.

Venky Mysore pointed out that the United States is second only to India when it comes to digital consumption of the IPL and they are keen on tapping the potential with 6 city-based teams in the United States.

“When you look at the sports market in the US, it’s the No. 1 media market in the world. Cricket is the 2nd most consumed sport in the whole world. So when you put those 2 together, you say ‘I have got the ingredients to make it work’,” Mysore said.

“Will the so-called diaspora support it sufficiently? The answer is yes. It’s a very affluent diaspora, somewhere estimated to be 7 to 10 million. If the digital content consumption of IPL is studied, next to India, the No. 2 consumers of IPL’s digital content is the US.

“From a distance, they are consuming IPL content, then if it’s happening in their backyard, can we get them excited enough to come to the stadium and watch it?

“I think if the league is going to be built only on the basis of the diaspora, I don’t think it can grow and sustain in the long run. My thought process is we need to build a league to make an American sports lover start taking to cricket. And for that to happen, you need the American sports investor to get involved with this. That is what is exciting about this venture.”

Venky Mysore said work has already begun to get the league underway, at least with three world-class facilities, in 2022. The KKR CEO said that they are already in talks with city councils in the United States to establish high-quality infrastructure and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Los Angeles Knight Riders at Major League Cricket?

“The difference between this model and any other models that we are familiar with is that we become part owners of the league. The role that they are expecting us to play is a consulting role as well. In addition to being stakeholders, they want us to help them build USA cricket, they want us to build academies and help them at the grassroots level,” Mysore said.

“On the major league side, the launch of the league is crucial but the infrastructure is going to be crucial. When you are talking about 6 franchises, and 6 full-fledged, world-class stadiums, the conversations have already started with the city councils.

“And there is already talk about us potentially putting our franchise in Los Angeles. There could be LA Knight Riders, there is a LA Lakers who are also Purple and Gold so it all comes together.

“There is a very strong sports culture there. In terms of sequence, what is going to happen is that there is going to be a substantial fund-raising which will take place in the next 6-8 months where somewhere between $75 million to $100 million is going to be raised. Very confidently, we are feeling that the investor group will be able to raise that.

“And that money is going to be used to put the six stadiums together. The city councils are already excited, they are asking us how much land we want. They are talking about low-cost financing.

“The Major League launch will likely happen in 2022. Potentially, it will happen in 3 stadiums (Fort Lauderdale, one in Morristown and a stadium in Dallas), parallelly, the other three will be getting ready. So in 2023, you will see 6 city-based proper world-class infrastructure is ready.”

Knight Riders group already are associated with 2 franchises — KKR in the IPL and the Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League.

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