The Caribbean Premier League is still coming to play at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica despite some unforeseen challenges, and organisers are confident that the Jamaica fans will get their money’s worth and enjoy the full CPL cricket experience.
Sabina Park and Jamaica Cricket Association officials announced last week that the lights at the stadium that are being installed, and which would allow for night matches to be played, will not be ready in time for the inaugural tournament. The revelation has caused CPL officials to tweak the tournament schedule in order to accommodate the Jamaica matches.
“It is unfortunate that Sabina Park was unable to secure its lights in time for the CPL but we have done what we can to ensure that Team Jamaica fans will not miss out on home matches or be excluded from the CPL excitement,” said CPL CEO Damien O’ Donohoe. “Sabina Park is an important ground in the history of West Indies cricket, and a popular venue for fans so we felt it was vital to keep the matches at this ground.”
The Jamaica matches will now take place on Thursday, 15 August at 2pm (Jamaica vs Guyana); Saturday, 17 August featuring a doubleheader at 10am (St Lucia vs Trinidad & Tobago) and 2pm (Jamaica vs Barbados); and Sunday, 18 August at 2pm (Jamaica vs Trinidad & Tobago).
O’ Donohoe also noted another change in the schedule, saying that as a result of feedback from fans, all matches in the other five franchise countries (Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, St Lucia and Trinidad) will start at 7:30pm. On days where there are two matches, the first match will take place at 3pm.
CPL event organisers are pulling out all the stops to get fans to Sabina as they are well aware of the challenges that the new dates and times might pose for people who want to come out to the matches.
“These four matches will be filled with lots of entertainment; fans will not feel left out of the CPL party experience or disappointed with what we have planned for them,” said CPL Event Director Rhonda Kelly. “Each match will open with live performances by popular local artistes, and there will also be a performance during the match break. Of course we’ll have a DJ and iron band and all the elements of a cricket match that Sabina is known for. We’ll also have stilt walkers and face painting for fans to show their team pride and lots of giveaways and promotions courtesy of Digicel, CPL’s major sponsor. As it is summer and the kids are out of school, there is a lot that we can do in terms of family entertainment and we hope that families will take advantage of these safe, fun and affordable events.”
Digicel is already creating major buzz and excitement around the CPL, and will increase its marketing efforts in order to fill seats at the Jamaica matches.
“The Digicel ‘Play Your Part’ promotion on Facebook where fans can win the chance to present the Man of the Match award or participate in the coin toss is already generating much interest but we’re going to do more to target the Jamaica fan base,” explained James Wynne, Digicel Group Head of Sponsorship. “We’re going to do some text promotions, give away some tickets, special access passes, smart phones and other cricket memorabilia, all with the intent of ensuring that everyone comes out to play at Sabina in August.”