HEADLINES

St.Kitts and Grenada cough up Millions to Host CPL Games

165779 CPL-Winners-Presentation-2013

Caribupdate News is reporting that  Organisers of the Caribbean Premiere League have been leaving a sour note in some capitals by its demands that islands should shell out big payments for the ability to host matches.

This appears to be a sea-change from the arrangements last year.

The organisers are apparently banking on last year’s success as the reason why governments, in some of the most trying economic ties, must shell out big sums for the private tournament.

Grenada has confirmed that it has to pay 500,000 US dollars for the rights to host the opening three games of the tournament.

And sources say, the CPL has refused to fund an official opening ceremony, saying Grenada can put on one if it wants to.

Local organisers are looking at the prospect of showcasing Grenada’s culture and lifestyle at an opening ceremony before the matches.

But they are hamstrung by the demands of the CPL organisers that they seek no local sponsorship to underwrite the opening ceremony, so as not to compete with the official tournament sponsors.

St Kitts as well has reportedly shelled out an even larger sum than Grenada. The figure that St Kitts paid has not been officially released, but insiders say it is  “a lot more than Grenada” and is believed to be over US$2.5 million for the right to host the final games for the first time. Insiders have suggested that they out-bid Oil Rich Trinidad and Tobago who offered up US$1.5MILLION to host the semi-finals and finals.

Neither St.Kitts or Grenada have CPL franchises.

This may explain the many matches that are to be played at the Warner Park in Basseterre this year, including the finals, as opposed to other venues — even those with larger population and actual franchises.

Cash-strapped Grenada, while agreeing to the payments, has worked out “a payment plan” with the organisers, its Minister of Sports Emmalin Pierre has reported.

She said the first payment of 100,000 US dollars will be made at the beginning of next month — the full amount to be completely paid off by the end of the year.

Some islands with franchises have resisted the push by organisers to get payments from governments for matches.

Antigua is one of the islands that have held out against having to make any payments, and there was doubt for a while about matches being staged at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium.

Though more matches are being played in the tournament this year, Antigua — the home of the Hawksbill — will only be hosting three this time.

An Antigua newspaper confirmed recently that authorities there “had rejected an initial proposal by CPL and although officials on both sides had been tightlipped about those negotiations, reports indicated that the government was not willing to invest the total amount that was being quoted by the CPL.”

“I won’t say discussions have gone exactly how we would have hoped but we have come to an agreement and we will be looking to stage games for the Caribbean Premier League, after the FIFA World Cup, in Antigua this year,” Founding Architect at Caribbean Premier League Ltd, Kieran Foley, said.

St Lucia has reportedly balked also at the demands of CPL organisers.

In the last few months the CPL has been touting the economic benefits to the islands for hosting matches in the tournament.

“We believe that this was an orchestrated PR move on their part so they can to demand big payouts from governments,” one official in St Lucia told CARIBUPDATE NEWS.

“They told us that next year this will be a different ball game; that no money, no games,” the official said.

Pierre said the Grenada government is considering the half million US dollar payment as “an investment.”

“We see the potential. We see the opportunity,” she declared at a press conference Tuesday.

Pierre said the matches garner big audiences on television around the world, affording promotional opportunities for tourism-dependent Grenada.

“We think it will impact significantly on our tourism product, as well as our local vendors,” she said.

“St Lucia last year, it is estimated — as with the performance of the games — that the economic boost was as high as 7.3 percent,” Pierre said.

The Grenada minister further argued: “The hosting of CPL matches gives us an excellent opportunity to showcase our abilities to host international fixtures.”

The decision by the St.Kitts government to invest such a significant amount in the hosting the CPL is likely due to the government’s waning popularity in what is a lead up to a General Elections that will likely be called by late this year.

One insider has stated that with a Motion of No Confidence still on the table in St.Kitts and a government that commands a minority support in parliament the Dr Denzil Douglas administration is trying to use the CPL to help to boast his government’s increasingly waning support on the island. St.Kitts has never produced a test player and had only two players included in the CPL draft. None of them were selected. The St.Kitts grounds can host a maximum of 10,000 persons. Much smaller than grounds in Antigua, Trinidad and other grounds throughout the Caribbean.

According to Senior Sports Officer in St.Kitts Vernon Springer , during a recent interview, he indicated that part of the CPL Finals will be a Super Concert which is expected to include some of the Caribbean and the World’s biggest stars . Also planned is a celebrity Cricket Match which the Senior Sports Officer indicated may include cricket legends like Ian Botham, Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar, Curtley Ambrose and others.

For the St.Kitts government the CPL is more for political survival than for any economic gains. The money the government there has already spent and will spend to host these games will likely far exceed the monies that the event will bring to the economy said one observer.

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