Washington Freedom will give America’s capital its own professional cricket team for the first time
Indian American investor Sanjay Govil has formed the American capital’s first ever own professional cricket team to compete in the Major League Cricket (MLC), a new T20 franchise league in the USA.
Named Washington Freedom, the new team will represent Washington DC in the inaugural edition of MLC in July, a transformative competition that will bring many of the world’s top cricketers to the United States, according to an MLC release.
Read: Indian American entrepreneur Sanjay Govil wants to grow cricket in America (March 30, 2016)
The team unveiled its name and logo on March 15, with the mark featuring patriotic red, white and blue colors, stars from the Washington DC city flag, and a bat and ball representing cricket, the world’s second most popular sport.
“The Washington DC area is home to hundreds of thousands of cricket fans, and it’s an honor to be able to bring a professional team to the nation’s capital with the Washington Freedom to compete in the groundbreaking Major League Cricket championship this summer,” said Sanjay Govil, team lead investor, Washington Freedom.
“The team’s mark and colors are a perfect fit for a team from the nation’s capital to compete on the global stage MLC provides for the world’s second most popular sport, which has more than 2.5 billion fans.”
The Freedom will bowl their first ball in July at a newly-constructed MLC venue, Grand Prairie Stadium, in Grand Prairie, Texas within the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex.
The 2023 season will feature 19 matches to be played over 18 days, opening on July 13 and building up to the first-ever MLC championship final to take place on July 30, 2023. The Freedom will compete alongside teams representing Texas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, playing the T20 format of the game.
Read: Satya Nadella forms Seattle’s new professional cricket team (March 17, 2023)
The roster for the Freedom will be filled out with the announcement of multiple marquee overseas stars and the selection cream of American domestic at the MLC Domestic Player Draft on March 19 in Houston, Texas. Space Center Houston, the official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center, will provide an iconic venue and backdrop for the league’s first-ever draft.
“The launch of Major League Cricket will bring an American flavor to the world of cricket, and it’ll be fantastic to see the Washington Freedom take to the pitch representing the nation’s capital this summer,” said Justin Geale, MLC Tournament Director.
The Freedom has partnered with one of the world’s leading cricket entities, Australia’s Cricket New South Wales, to lead preparation of the player roster and provide high performance services including coaching, sports science and sports medicine, performance analysis and team operations, the release said.
While the Freedom will not host any home matches in the 2023 season, MLC and the Freedom have already embarked on planning to build a world class home for the team in the Washington DC region.
Read: Indian American business leaders boost American cricket (May 20, 2022)
The team has partnered with George Mason University (Mason) to study the feasibility of a new multi-purpose cricket and baseball facility. The ballpark would be designed to host MLC matches, Mason baseball games, and other events on the University’s Fairfax Campus in the Washington DC region.
With a goal to be operational by 2025, the ballpark at Mason would be located in the heart of one of the largest cricket-loving populations in the United States and feature an international-grade arena for the Freedom to call their home.
More information on these plans will be announced following the conclusion of the feasibility study later this year, MLC release said.
Microsoft’s Indian American chief CEO Satya Nadella has also formed Seattle’s new professional cricket team named Seattle Orcas in partnership with Delhi Capitals’ co-owner GMR Group to compete in MLC.
The Seattle Orcas’ lead investor group includes Nadella, Soma Somasegar (Managing Director of Madrona Ventures), Samir Bodas (Co-founder and CEO, Icertis), Ashok Krishnamurthi (Managing Partner, GreatPoint Ventures) and Sanjay Parthasarathy (former senior executive at Microsoft and Avalara).
Read: FREEDOM ARRIVES IN WASHINGTON D.C. WITH LAUNCH OF DISTRICT’S MAJOR LEAGUE CRICKET TEAM (March 15, 2023)
Meanwhile, according to an ESPNcricinfo report, besides Delhi Capitals, two other prominent IPL franchises —Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings — have bought stakes in MLC and will anchor franchises in New York and Texas respectively.
That means four out of the six teams in MLC overall will be helmed by IPL franchises, after Kolkata Knight Riders, one of the earliest investors in the tournament, took charge of the Los Angeles franchise.
While Mumbai, like Knight Riders, will run the New York franchise on its own, it said, Super Kings, too, have allied with a local investor in the Texas franchise. A similar strategic tie-up has been struck between San Francisco franchise, owned by Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan, and Cricket Victoria.