The tournament director says, 'The T20 World Cup will be a carnival-like experience for the fans.'

New Delhi, February 8 (IANS). The ninth edition of the Men's T20 World Cup, expanding from 16 to 20 teams, means that there will be a huge pool of cricket fans who will be eager to watch the matches of their favorite teams in the stadium or from the comfort of their homes.

The success of a tournament in any sport directly depends on the number of fans and their passion for the sport, inspiring players to perform at their best and allowing the sport to continue to grow.

IANS spoke exclusively to Fawwaz Baksh, tournament director of the 2024 Men's T20 World Cup, about the objective and steps taken to make the showpiece event a grand occasion for fans, and what he thinks will be the parameters for the tournament. . Success.

Q. What has been the organizing committee's approach in terms of fan participation for the tournament?

A. One of the reasons we are so excited about this tournament is that the West Indies brand of cricket is known around the world. This tournament is the T20 World Cup and we rekindle the interest of our fans with the way we play our game.

At the same time, we also give them the opportunity to attract more new fans to the game in the United States. World-class stadiums and great matches are something that will happen anyway. Our big focus is to ensure that the experience is memorable for all the billions of fans who come to watch the matches in West Indies or USA.

They got an experience like no other and with the party atmosphere in the West Indies, we wanted to ensure that it was a carnival and a fun experience not only on the match day but also before and after the match. It's a big focus for us to ensure the experience is memorable – not just for the fans, but also for the players, support staff and media.

I'm not going to lie, it's going to be a great tournament. This tournament is new to everyone and there are many fans who have moved to America. There will be many people who will hear about cricket for the first time.

They'll wonder, 'What game is this and what's happening?' Why have they built a 34,000-seat stadium in my community?' All of this is naturally going to spark interest and people will want to see what all the big hype is about, and why everyone is talking about it on the radio.

So, we have to make sure that when they come to any of these places in the United States, they say 'Wow, this is a great game and a great time.' Hopefully this will mean there will be lifelong cricket fans who will continue to support and see the game grow in the United States and West Indies.

Q. Have there been any specifics about connecting with game fans in the host cities in the Caribbean and United States?

A. It is fortunate for me that I have been a part of every World Cup held in the West Indies. So there are a lot of learnings from each of those tournaments. We have always had a primary focus on connecting with our people in the West Indies.

Now this is going to happen in the United States, so a lot of our planning and engagement starts at the community level. We partner with schools, and we also reach out into communities to make them feel a part of this tournament. This is a tournament not only for the stay players but also for those who have gone to the United States and West Indies.

We will not isolate them at all for this tournament and we have put together activities for the coming months. There will be a lot of activations, activities at the community level and we are going to make them so interesting that I think they will come to the venue.

Q. Can you talk about the plan in terms of connecting with the overseas fans who will be coming in large numbers to watch the games?

A. We know that a lot of fans will travel to West Indies and America to watch the matches. No one is naïve about the number of visitors we have and local governments recognize this. They are also having a lot of parties and concerts around the tournament.

So, overseas fans are not just going to want to see what happens on the cricket field, it will also be about the experiences they will get once they land in the country. We are going to build fan parks outside the stadiums so that anyone can experience them between matches.

A big part of this is creating fan parks in New York, Dallas and Florida and connecting with communities and stakeholders for events around the tournament. So we are working closely with all our governments to achieve much more than just cricket. Living from match days to non-match days will be a carnival-like experience for them.

Q. Traveling between the United States and the West Indies can be challenging, especially with so few airlines operating flights to these areas. Are there plans to add more flights for fans to travel during the competition?

A. This is something that we started long ago, where the participating teams for the tournament were finalized. With a fixed match schedule, we are talking to airlines to get more flights in the region. For us, we are working closely with them to get charter flights to transport the teams around.

We are asking airlines to start more commercial flights for fans to travel. That's why we've partnered so closely with the government. They are very impressive when it comes to these airlines and getting flights in the area. The West Indies is a very tourist-driven economy and partnerships with airlines through the government promote tourism in the region.

They are ready to negotiate on our behalf and also to work with us to ensure that their flights are doing more in this area. So this discussion has been going on for quite some time and our guess is that there will be more flights in the region for fans to travel between venues during the tournament.

Q. Demand for tickets has been encouraging, as evidenced by the nearly four million ticket applications received from over 160 countries. What has been the ticket pricing strategy to make it affordable for fans to watch matches at the stadium?

A. We are introducing a relatively new sport to the United States and we want to revive the passion for cricket in the West Indies. To do this, we needed to make tickets accessible. Our strategy at both CWI and ICC is to grow the game and high ticket prices will deter people from coming to games, especially those who have only heard of cricket yet but the tournament has piqued their curiosity.

Through our partnerships with our host countries and cities we have managed to keep ticket prices low. This is the result of many people sharing the same vision – to put cricket and the fans first.

Q. What are the criteria in your mind to consider the tournament a success?

A. We have four primary objectives for this tournament. Firstly, we want to create a cricket experience that millions of fans around the world can enjoy. It's one of our big focuses to make sure fans have fun both during and after match days, and to explore the new fans we're going to make from this tournament, which is huge for us.

Another major objective is to ensure that the facilities at the arena are up to ICC standards. So, it's going to be improvements at all facilities throughout the region and new facilities in the United States. Again, we want to make sure that we inspire our youth so that they continue the legacy of the West Indies, and also introduce new players to the United States. We want to see our youngsters take up playing cricket because of what they see on television and experience at the venues.

Ultimately, we want to connect everyone around the world with cricket. This is not only for those who are coming to watch the match, but also for those who are watching on television. So we're working on ways to get more people involved in the game – like talking about the game, no matter where you are. These are the four things we are looking for and if we achieve it, we know we have achieved success.

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