Jan 292008
 
Authors: Chad Taylor

It may sound like a simple enough plan; chose a small American city, throw money at its residents until they agree to try something as foreign as baked beans with breakfast.

Beans with breakfast, a tradition from the British Isles, has had some trouble getting across the Atlantic to Fort Collins. The same could be said for cricket. One wealthy businessman thinks cricket will catch on in Fort Collins a lot faster than beans with breakfast.

From now until Feb. 24, Fort Collins residents will be the only people in the United States that are able to view the Stanford 20/20 Cricket Tournament on basic cable.

The Stanford 20/20 is an annual Cricket tournament played in Antigua that was created by Sir Allen Stanford.

Stanford, the chairman, CEO and sole shareholder of the multibillion dollar company Stanford Financial Group, started the tournament in 2006 as a way of rejuvenating cricket in the eastern Caribbean.

Stanford, a Texas native who spends the most of his time in the Caribbean, was affected by cricket long before he decided to affect it.

“Cricket is synonymous with success, business-wise,” Stanford said. “When the West Indies are at the top of their game, it gives us all a feeling of pride and success.”

As recently as 2006 Cricket’s popularity in the West Indies was falling. Stanford seized this opportunity to create a new kind of tournament with a new kind of cricket.

20/20 Cricket is different from traditional cricket in that it only lasts about three hours. Combine that with a bit of Caribbean flavor and Stanford thinks cricket is back in the Caribbean and it can make the jump to the United States.

“I was introduced to the game of cricket over 20 years ago while conducting business in the Caribbean,” Stanford said in a statement. “And now, after successfully reigniting passion for the game throughout the region, I want to share my love for the sport with America.”

Stanford says demographics were a key factor in choosing Fort Collins as his target location.

He thinks of the tournament as something that can reach far wider than sports currently popular in America. In fact, he would like to see the American audience to be made up of 60 percent women and children. For this reason Stanford said he wanted his ideal test market to be a young, family oriented community; something that he thinks Fort Collins exemplifies. Fort Collins also fits the bill in other ways.

“Next to demographics, the city having a college was the second most important factor,” Stanford said.

Cold weather was also a factor in his decision. The logic behind this is the thought that a city in a cold climate would respond well to a sport being played in the tropics.

Ann Arbor, Michigan was another city that Stanford said was heavily considered, but in the end Fort Collins was chosen because of the variety of sports its residents already participate in.

“I chose the Fort Collins area for our American broadcast debut because the residents form a vibrant and active community, while possessing a willingness to try new things and an enthusiasm for sports,” Stanford said in a statement.

A schedule of Ft. Collins events that surround the Stanford 20/20s can be found at www.yougottaseethis2020.com.

Sports writer Chad Taylor can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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