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Big Bash League may head to regional cities
The stellar success of the Big Bash League (BBL) may see Cricket Australia takes games to regional centres as soon as next summer, in a bid to begin expansion of the competition.
Writing on LinkedIn, Mark Sinclair, Commercial Sales Manager at Melbourne Renegades, Melbourne Stars and Cricket Victoria, suggested that “additional rounds would also be added to the tournament to accommodate the moved matches”, as Cricket Australia “looks to build on the overwhelming success of this summer's competition, which is already attracting higher attendances than Test matches by almost 9,000 fans per day.”
Sinclair suggested that Cricket Australia has a concern about oversaturating the market, and will “experiment by taking games to regional hubs in coming years, before adding new teams.”
Manager of the BBL Anthony Everard stated “it's the evolution of the Big Bash, we're five years in now and we've achieved some great results in that period.
"We are inclined to have a soft launch in some respects. We may take existing BBL games and play those in regional centres.
"If we were to do that though, it wouldn't come at a cost of the major metro markets, so that would have to be new incremental content. That is something that we are looking at for the short to medium term."
Crowds of almost 28,000 per match have well exceeded the organisers' predictions for this summer, while average attendances in Brisbane, Perth, Hobart and Melbourne are higher than any single-day Test crowd at the same venues this summer.
Hobart even drew more fans to their match against the Sydney Thunder than they did in the entire three days of their Test between Australia and the West Indies in December.
However, while Everard says they will not act on impulse in adding new teams rashly, it is believed the most likely option would be to add them after the 2017/18 season when the current broadcast deal ends.
Given one of the fundamental aims of the BBL is to expose new fans to the game, Everard says the most likely option would be to take matches to Canberra, Geelong and the Gold Coast before considering their addition to the competition.
Everard explained “historically we've done a great job servicing our major metro centres with Test matches and ODIs, but there are a lot of parts of Australia that haven't had exposure to elite cricket.
"I think BBL by its very nature provides a great opportunity to be more flexible in our scheduling to try and accommodate that."
Expansion of the competition through the means of additional matches and teams could prove problematic to keep it within its current school holiday window, but Everard believes it is still possible, adding “before Christmas we had a double-header on the east coast which actually worked really well.
"On Saturday night we had the double header using the Perth timeslot to our advantage. With over 100,000 people attending games, TV ratings were still strong with over a million people still watching both games.
“That was a really big tick."
The evening of Saturday 2nd January saw a record crowd of 80,883 at the MCG for the Melbourne Stars v Melbourne Renegades followed by a crowd of 20,444 were at the WACA ground to see the Perth Scorchers v Sydney Sixers.
3rd January 2016 - RECORD 80,000 BIG BASH LEAGUE CROWD AT THE MCG
1st January 2016 - SCG TRUST ADVISES FANS TO PLAN FOR ENHANCED TEST MATCH SECURITY
3rd December 2015 - KFC AUSTRALIA CELEBRATES CRICKET ON THE COUCH
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