The Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) will be back in Lauderhill, Florida, for the second successive year, and the city's Mayor, Richard Kaplan, has spoken about what it means for Lauderhill to host the tournament for four matches on August 5 and 6.
"It means carrying out our mission of bringing cricket to the United States and to the community," Mayor Kaplan says. "There is a great amount of interest in cricket and in sports in general. South Florida is a huge sport mecca. We have numerous major sports: Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup soccer, tennis, golf, baseball, hockey, Stanley Cup – the list goes on and on."
"The City of Lauderhill has a large Caribbean population and as Mayor of a city you want to provide your residents with what they are looking for. Whatever programs, whatever sports they want – and that's what we did. We developed programs around their interests, and cricket is one of them."
The story of how Lauderhill became the home of the only international standard cricket facility in the USA is an interesting one. It began with a trip to Chaguanas in Trinidad to discuss them becoming a sister city with Lauderhill. Mayor Kaplan had conducted some research on cricket before he went on the trip because he had been invited to watch a match between the West Indies and India, where the topic of World Cup venues came up.
"At the time they were discussing the World Cup coming to the Caribbean and this gentleman asked me if Florida would be interested in bidding for the World Cup," Mayor Kaplan says. Despite being in the USA and not the Caribbean the Mayor was assured that he could bid on hosting matches. "Being a first-term Mayor I did not know any better and I said 'sure, why not?' adds Kaplan. "I came back to the United States and we were building a new park. A survey revealed that a cricket stadium was the number one chosen item to be put in there. We went ahead and built the stadium specifically for the World Cup 2007. We put together an incredible bid, overcoming many obstacles, and then we were shut down and was told that the tournament would not be in the United States."
But the US now had an international-class facility and began to compete with other international teams. We have had several [matches] with the West Indies, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and India. We expect some more in the future and now we have the CPL games."
The Mayor is very proud of his cricket stadium and has been converted to the game. That Lauderhill is the only facility of this standard in the USA is an obvious source of pride for Kaplan: "The United States Central Broward Regional Stadium is the only ICC-sanctioned cricket stadium. [When researching the stadium] we found there were a lot of people throughout the United States that would rather come to Florida to watch a game than go down to the Caribbean, which is what they previously had to do. It is easier and far less expensive to go from California or New York to here. We do get quite a few people who fly in throughout the United states to watch these games."