Organisers believe JPL T20 has potential to boost tourism
The second edition the franchise-based Jamaica Premier League Twenty20 (JPL T20) was launched yesterday amidst mounting calls for more government involvement in supporting the development of sports tourism.
The month-long JPL, which begins on Saturday, is sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), to the tune of over $5 million.
Clyde Harrison, the executive director of the TEF, while highlighting the revenue-earning potential of Twenty20 cricket, said the aim is to better expose players to the format for them to "improve and play better in tight situations".
He added that an increase in the quality of play would attract more supporters to turn out at more venues, including those located in popular tourist locations.
Jason Hall, the deputy director of the JTB, who represented minister of tourism and entertainment, Wykeham McNeil, said it was "fitting that we look to develop" T20 cricket across the island since it could build the overall tourism product.
The reigning champions of the JPL T20 are the University Dynamites.
Jon-Ross Campbell, the captain of the Dynamites and a key member of last year's winning team, said he is expecting a tougher run this campaign.
"I think the guys are pretty confident. Not many of us are gone from last season, but we are expecting a lot of competition. Last year I think we were underestimated for the most part, and we came through and won the competition. They will come harder this time," the University of Technology student told the Jamaica Observer during yesterday's launch at Sabina Park.
The other teams competing in a round robin format are Spanish Town Titans, Mandeville Thunders, Ocho Rios Chargers, MoBay Sixers and Kingston Hurricanes.
Two teams who participated in 2012 — the May Pen Earthquakes and Half-Way-Tree Sparks — have not been entered this year because, according to organisers, better players will be "spread across fewer entities, ensuring greater competition weekly".
The top team at the end of the preliminaries and the winner of the second and third place play-off match will contest the final.
Matches will be played in St Catherine, Kingston, St Elizabeth, St Ann and Trelawny.
Milton Henry, the Jamaica Cricket Association vice-president, said the local body is "proud and excited to work with our partners, the TEF and the JTB," so as to "ensure that T20 cricket continues to grow".
Henry noted the TEF's sponsorship of the recently concluded JamT20 tournament and the support of the 2013 JPL, as examples of their commitment to help develop sport tourism through cricket.
"We spent about $3.5 million on the JamT20 so the remainder of it will go to the JPL. We got a little bit more from the TEF so roughly now we'll be spending about $5.5 million on this tournament. You can see they want this to work," the JCA vice-president said.
Henry assured that this season spectators will be eligible for prizes and will be able to participate in events to enhance the overall fan experience.
The fourth edition of the Jam T20, which was won by St Catherine CC, ran from August to September. That competition mostly consisted of the traditional clubs, parishes and associations.