Balancing Act - Grange addresses Tallawahs funding, home fixture controversy
Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, confirmed to The Gleaner yesterday, that the Jamaica Tallawahs have received over $7 million in funding from the Jamaican government, while calling for greater balance in the location of the team's home fixtures.
The Tallawahs management - the Florida-based Worldwide Sports Management Group (WSMG), has come in for heavy criticism from local fans, after three of the team's five home games in this season's Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) were played at the Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida.
In explaining the move, Chief Operating Officer Jeff Miller, noted that the Jamaican franchise was the only CPL team to have not received government support with information also emerging around the approximately $9 million spent to play the two games at Sabina Park this month.
However, Grange, while expressing 'understanding', in the efforts to provide wider access and expand the sport and the brand, called for adjustments.
She also stated that the Government has supported the Tallawahs in the past, but that the franchise's latest request for sponsorship arrived after the budgeting process and could not be facilitated this time around.
"The Government was able to provide support to the Jamaica Tallawahs franchise - USD$25,000 ($2.9 million, based on the exchange rate at the time) in 2015 and USD$35,00 ($4.5 million) in 2017 - despite late requests for support," said Grange. "I understand that there was a request for support again this year, however, it came after the budget process and could not be facilitated."
The minister did not confirm whether that request was presented to her ministry.
Spreading the game
Meanwhile, Grange stated that she appreciates the importance of spreading the game to the diaspora, but is looking forward to greater balance, while offering to contribute wherever possible.
"Cricket is more than a game for Jamaican and Caribbean people across the world. There is a special fondness for cricket and, therefore, I understand the attempt by the franchise holders to satisfy fans in Jamaica and in the diaspora by playing some home games at Sabina Park and others in Florida," said Grange.
"This is still a new way of doing things and I expect that the administrators will review and make the necessary adjustments in the interest of the franchise. I am confident that they will strike the right balance and I am prepared to do what I can to help to get it right," added Grange.
After winning their first three games - including the two played at Sabina Park, the Tallawahs have gone on to lose all three matches in Florida, with captain Andre Russell, complaining about the lack of support received at the venue, despite it being their home ground.