Three years after USA Cricket announced a plan to raise $1 billion to fund the sport professionally in America, the upstart Major League Cricket announced Wednesday that it had banked $44 million in closing its Series A and A1 fundraising rounds, with an additional $76 million in investment commitments over the next year.
In a press release, MLC said its investment has thus far been led by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella; Seattle-based venture capitalist Soma Somasegar; Ross Perot Jr., the billionaire scion of the ‘90s-era presidential candidate; Sanjay Govil; and tech entrepreneurs and business partners Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan; among others.
In an interview with Sportico, MLC co-founder Vijay Srinivasan says its fundraising had put the league on pace to achieve its billion-dollar goal.
“I think we are more or less tracking towards that,” Srinivasan, CEO of Willow TV International, said. “The pandemic might have shifted things by a year or two.”
The league originally had set its sights on a 2022 start date, but is now planning to begin matches next year. MLC teams will compete in Twenty20 (T20), a condensed and faster paced form of cricket that has gained worldwide popularity since being introduced in England in the early aughts.
A Major League Cricket spokesperson declined to provide the MLC’s current valuation, based on its latest fundraising.
The combined $120 million the MLC has on the books will primarily flow to the construction and redevelopment of stadiums across the country, beginning with the league’s planned flagship venue in Grand Prairie, Texas—at AirHogs Stadium, a former minor league baseball and soccer venue—as well as upgrades to another of its grounds in Morrisville, N.C.
Srinivasan says that a groundbreaking event is planned in Grand Prairie this summer.
Last month, the city council of Irvine, Calif., 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles, approved plans to enter an exclusive negotiating agreement with Major League Cricket to develop a 20-acre parcel of land that would feature a 10,000-seat cricket stadium.
In addition to holding its own matches, the MLC plans to use its facilities to hold international games, including the 2028 Olympics in LA, if the sport gains inclusion.
“The ceiling for cricket’s growth in the United States is incredibly high, with the passion for the game at the grassroots level I’ve observed in Texas proof of its potential,” said Anurag Jain, another MLC investor, who is a business partner of Perot’s and chairman of Access Healthcare. “The plans MLC have laid out to develop infrastructure and build a foundation for professional cricket to thrive nationwide puts the sport on a tremendous trajectory, and I am excited to support this vision.”