Now this is sporting economic development: Cricket is back in Triangle

Editor’s Note: Steve S. Rao is a Council Member At Large and former Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Morrisville and Opinion Contributor for WRAL Tech Wire. He has served on the board of directors of the New American Economy, now the American Immigration Council, and the NC League of Municipalities Race and Equity Task Force. He is a regular contributor to WRAL TechWire.


MORRISVILLE – A few months ago I wrote a blog about how the sport of cricket is transforming the city of Morrisville into one of the top destinations in the country for this growing sport.

As I’ve always said, Morrisville is becoming the cricket capital of the United States.

This exciting sporting journey continues as The Town of Morrisville will host the Minor League Cricket Championships this weekend 27th Augustth and August 28thth in Church Street Park.

It starts on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. with the final of the Pacific Conference. The defending champions, the Silicon Valley Strikers, take on the Seattle Thunderbolts, newcomers to the playoffs this season. The Strikers defeated the Chicago Tigers and advanced to the conference finals by winning the series 2-1 at the Morgan Hill Sports Complex in the Bay Area. Seattle secured their spot with a barnstorm on Sunday, beating Dallas 2-0 in Houston with wins by 33 and 108 runs, respectively.

Steve Rao

Cricket will be brought under the lights of Church Street Park on Saturday night, with the Atlantic Conference final scheduled to begin at 5:30pm. Last year’s finalists, the New Jersey Stallions, will face off against the Atlanta Fire, who made it to the finals of the conference for the first time. The Fire qualified by defeating the Manhattan Yorkers in a weather-related series in Atlanta, earning a 1–0 series win. The Stallions beat hometown Morrisville Raptors 2-0 at Church Street Park on Saturday.

Entry to the finals weekend at Church Street Park, just 15 miles from downtown Raleigh, is free for all games. The winning team will take home $150,000 out of a total of $350,000 in prize money, the largest in American cricket history. The schedule for the final weekend is as follows:

  • Pacific Conference Finals – Silicon Valley Strikers vs. Seattle Thunderbolts
    Saturday 27 August at 1 p.m
  • Atlantic Conference Finals – New Jersey Stallions vs. Atlanta Fire
    Saturday 27 August at 5:30 p.m
  • National Championship Finals
    Sunday 28 August at 5 p.m

High definition live TV and streaming coverage for the finals weekend will include premium production from Antares Media for all three games. All games are free to stream on YouTube via the MLC network, with a conference final on Saturday and the championship game on Sunday being broadcast on Willow TV’s linear channel, available to millions of homes across the United States. For the first time, live audio commentary from Finals Weekend will also be broadcast on DM99.94, the innovative ‘Home of Cricket Audio’ launched this summer.

The finals weekend concludes the second season of the Toyota Minor League Cricket Championship presented by Sunoco, the most comprehensive competition in American cricket. The tournament ushered in a new era for the sport in the United States, with 26 participating teams competing in over 200 games in 20 cities across the country over 10 game weekends this season.

The full schedule and list of all 26 participating teams and their divisional breakdown is available at

The outdoor sport of cricket is clearly gaining popularity in the United States

The primary objective of the tournament is to provide a platform and opportunity for America’s top cricketers to showcase their skills on a national level. The organization also wants to build cricket communities across the country, according to the league’s website.

I continue to be impressed with the growing fan base that already exists for cricket in North Carolina. Kudos to my colleagues on the Council who recently committed to a multi-million dollar partnership with the minor league. The funds flow into plant and field improvements.

Morrisville is home to North Carolina’s only minor league cricket team, the Morrisvile Raptors. Dane Piedt is the captain of the Morrisville Raptors cricket team. After a phenomenal cricket career in South Africa, Piedt relocated to North Carolina to help the sport grow.

As a councilor and resident of Morrisville, I look forward to the T20 World Cup Qualifiers and a bright future to bring more tourists and dollars to our hotels, restaurants and businesses.

Until Saturday!

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