Broward County hosts U.S. Cricket Open in Lauderhill

In a big celebration of cricket, 16 teams compete until Sunday

LAUDERHILL, Fla. – The crowd may be light now but do not let that fool you. After all this is Thanksgiving Day and a lot of people are at home celebrating, but believe it or not this four-day tournament is expected to draw 20,000 spectators.

The opening ceremonies for the 8th annual U.S. Cricket Open got underway Thursday morning in Lauderhill.

There was a lot of pomp and circumstance for a game not all Americans are familiar with. There are plenty of South Floridians passionate about the game.

"This is actually the largest tournament of its kind in all of North America," said Sofian Qamar, the U.S. Cricket Open organizer. "It has been for the last 8 years at this point. It is a fast moving game and each game last about 3 hours."

The popularity of the game is on the rise.

"About 10 to 15 years ago it used to be real big. It went down but now it is rising back up again," Cricket fan Vergil Francis said. 

Sixteen teams  from around the country will be competing all weekend long from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. There will be four games a day until Sunday, when there will be two semi-finals and the championship game.

The Lauderhill cricket facility has been an economic generator for Broward County. In the 2012 exhibition cricket matches pitting the West Indies with New Zealand brought in $3 million locally and in the past two years stadium bookings are up 33 percent.

Tickets to the $100,000 prized tournament are just $10.