(UNDATED) - Indianapolis will not host the National Cricket Championships after all.
Just over two weeks ago, when we reported on the possibility of the USA Cricket Association (USACA) could be suspended by cricket's world governing body, Mayor Ballard's spokesman Marc Lotter said the tournament scheduled for August at the new World Sports Park would still take place. Today, the city sent a letter to USACA canceling the three-year contract signed last year to host the national championships. "Due to a lack of communication over the last few months, it has put the tournament in a position where we did not feel comfortable risking Indy's well deserved reputation as an outstanding sports host," said Lotter.
The letter to USACA was signed by Indy Parks Director John Williams and says the cricket group never provided a point of contact after the resignation of CEO Darren Beazley in March - Beazley negotiated the three-year contract with Ballard last year. "USACA has failed to provide information on the lead-up tournaments that determine the regional representatives," the letter said. "The lead-up tournaments were designed both to create exposure for the National Tournament...while also ensuring the elite competition indicative of the title."
The contract was for Indy to host the U.S. Championships from 2014 through 2016 at the new World Sports Park, the former Post Road Community Park on the Eastside. Remodeling of the park is scheduled to be completed in mid-August, just before the tournament had been scheduled to begin. "Seven of the eight regions that will be coming here to play have already booked their hotel rooms," Lotter told me on May 13, and USACA's first vice president, Michael Gale also said at the time the tournament would take place. "This is a very unique opportunity that will be repeated year after year, in Indianapolis, we hope," Gale said. "Indianapolis has been an amazing host so far."
But Williams' letter to USACA said that the city had held weekly conference calls with executives from the association, a practice that ended when Beazley stepped down. The letter also said USACA had quit working with the city to find sponsors for the tournament.
Ballard was criticized by some on the City-County Council, especially council Democrats, for spending $6 million in Rebuild Indy money to create the World Sports Park. The Democratic majority accused the mayor of choosing, in their words, "cricket over cops" when Ballard subsequently vetoed a plan passed by council to spend another $6 million from Rebuild Indy to hire new police officers. Though no other large events are currently scheduled for the new park, Lotter says it was not a waste of money. "At the end of the day, it is a multi-sport athletic field. We can't wait to get lacrosse, local cricket teams, soccer teams and rugby teams out there," Lotter said, adding that the city had not spent any money specifically on the national tournament.
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