Browsing 'Asian Town' News

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Via ILoveQatar.net

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A high-profile cricket tournament that was scheduled to be held in Qatar next year may be headed for the UAE after all, according to multiple reports.

Organizers announced less than a month ago that the first edition of the Pakistan Twenty20 cricket Super League (PSL) would be held at Asian Town (previously known as West End Park) in the Industrial Area.

Cricket at Asian Town

Navin Sam

Cricket at Asian Town

The league was originally going to be hosted by the UAE, but was moved to Qatar after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) found that all the venues were already booked for the February 2016 slot for the Masters Champions League, a tournament for retired cricketers, media reports said last month.

Pakistan has played all of its international matches in the UAE since 2009, when gunmen in Lahore fired upon a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team.

Now, however, ESPN cricinfo reports that the PCB said it was in talks with the Emirates Cricket Board over the possibility of hosting the tournament in the UAE after all.

Other media, such as The Indian Express, cited anonymous sources as saying an agreement has been in reached in principle between the Pakistan and UAE cricket associations to share venues in Dubai and Sharjah with the planned Masters Cricket League.

‘No official news’

The report added that holding the tournament in Qatar was still under consideration.

An official from Qatar Cricket Association told Doha News that they had not been notified of any changes.

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Olympic Committee

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“There are lots of rumors going on,” said Gul Khan, the association’s head of events and tournaments. “Everybody is talking … but there is no official news,” he added.

The choice of Qatar as tournament host was criticized by some commentators who argued that the UAE was more prepared to host the Pakistan Super League.

Relying on a sole stadium to hold all the matches and practices would present logistical headaches, some said, adding that the UAE would be a more financially lucrative host country that could accommodate larger crowds.

Even if the T20 league was moved to the UAE, Khan said he was confident that Qatar would be able to secure another high-caliber tournament in the near future:

“We have big grounds. We have good support from the government. We have everything. We want cricket here in Qatar … Very soon, you will see a big tournament here. We’ll prove to the world that we can do it,” he said.

PCB officials were not immediately available to comment this afternoon.

Hosting ambitions

T20 cricket is a short form of the game, where two teams have a single innings each up to a maximum of 20 overs. With the average match lasting up to three hours rather than over several days as in Test cricket, it is a faster-paced game developed to attract more spectators to grounds and to boost TV viewership.

The PSL was expected to bring many big-name players and international sponsors to Qatar, where matches would have been played at the Asian Town international cricket stadium. The facility was expected to undergo modifications to make it suitable.

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QSports

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The Asian Town ground, which was opened in 2013 and can hold approximately 13,000 spectators, hosted two smaller T20 tournaments for Qatar-based clubs last summer.

Meanwhile, local officials continue to work on positioning Qatar as a global sports hub. The country is hosting several major international tournaments ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Some 89 local, regional and international sporting events were scheduled to take place in Qatar between April 2015 and March 2016 alone, according to the Qatar Olympic Committee.

That includes next month’s AIBA World Boxing Championship for Men, which is expected to take place at Al Sadd Sports Club from Oct. 5 to 15 – the first time the tournament is coming to the region.

Thoughts?

Cricket at Asian Town

Navin Sam

Cricket at Asian Town

World cricket stars are expected to head to Doha next year to compete in the first edition of the Pakistan Twenty20 cricket Super League, after Qatar agreed to host the tournament, Pakistan’s Cricket Board has announced.

The franchised tournament will be played in February 2016 at the Asian Town (previously known as West End Park) international cricket stadium in the Industrial Area, which is likely to have to undergo modifications to make it suitable.

From Feb. 4-24, five teams will play 24 matches, competing for up to $1 million in prize money, the PCB said.

Najam Sethi, PCB executive commitree Chairman

PCB

Najam Sethi, PCB executive committee Chairman

Najam Sethi, chairman of the PCB’s executive committee, announced the deal in a press conference in Lahore yesterday.

The PCB has for some years been trying to set up a T20 league, but the launch has been postponed twice due to sponsorship and other issues.

The league was originally going to be hosted by the UAE, which is where Pakistan has played all of its international matches since a terrorist attack on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan team in 2009.

However, when the PCB attempted to confirm venues with the Emirates Cricket Board earlier this summer, they discovered that the stadiums had already been booked for the February slot for the Masters Champions League, a tournament for retired cricketers, ESPN cricinfo reports.

Rather than again delaying the launch of the league until April, when players may not be available, Sethi said Doha was chosen to host the tournament.

“The wait is now over and we are here to tell you of our intent to stage the PSL. The way we see it, PSL is not just about cricket. It is a unique blend of entertainment and cricket which will be the most exciting Pakistani product,” Sethi said.

What is Twenty20?

T20 cricket is a short form of the game, where two teams have a single innings each up to a maximum of 20 overs.

With the average match lasting up to three hours rather than over several days as in Test cricket, it is a faster-paced game which has been developed to help attract more spectators to grounds and to boost TV viewing figures.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Via ILoveQatar.net

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In addition to international tournaments, a number of countries have national T20 leagues.

Pakistan previously had the Haier T20 league, involving 18 franchised member clubs.

It will be replaced with the Super League, which will be created by city-based franchises and is expected to include teams from Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad and Karachi.

It is likely Pakistan hopes it can eventually build a league to rival the Indian Premier League, the world’s most watched T20 league with an estimated brand value of $7.2 billion.

Explaining how the new Pakistan league will work, Sethi said:

“We are starting with 5 teams in order to build the value of our franchises and we will expand the number of teams in the coming editions.”

International players

While the signing of the players has yet to be confirmed, cricketers from across the world are expected to feature in the tournament lineup, alongside those from Pakistan.

Top foreign players from all Test-playing nations except India have expressed interest in taking part in the PSL, with initial consent shown from more than 40 international players, Sethi added.

Four West Indians and two players each from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa are among the names the PCB would like to lure. Around 25 are expected to sign up to the league, 15 of whom will be “world class players”  Gulf Times reports Sethi as saying.

Talks are already underway with potential sponsors and franchise owners and broadcasters have shown “great interest” in the tournament, the PCB official added.

The formal launch of the PSL is expected to take place in Lahore late next month, and rights for broadcast, sponsorship and franchise ownership will be sold over the coming three months.

Qatar Cricket Association has welcomed the deal. “We are yet to finalize the details about the agreement to host the tournament and we hope this will be done soon,” QCA official Gul Khan told Gulf Times.

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Olympic Committee

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With Qatar home to hundreds of thousands of people from cricket-loving nations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India, the tournament is expected to draw decent crowds from home in addition to fans traveling from elsewhere in the region to watch the matches.

However, unlike other T20 tournaments which are played around a number of venues and cities, Qatar only has one stadium and all the matches will be played there.

The Asian Town ground, which was opened in 2013 and has a capacity of around 13,000, last summer hosted two smaller T20 tournaments for Qatar-based clubs.

Previously, Asian Cricket Council official Bandula Warnapura reportedly described the stadium as “one of the best I have seen in this region” and said it was a contender to hold international matches.

Will you go to the matches? Thoughts?

 

Grand Mall Hypermarket in Asian Town.

Penny Yi Wang

The 2013 opening of Grand Mall Hypermarket in what was then known as West End Park.

A popular retail and recreation complex near the Industrial Area that caters to Qatar’s low-income workforce has changed its name as it prepares to open several new amenities.

West End Park, which encompasses several cinemas, a cricket pitch, amphitheater and shopping centers including the Grand Mall Hypermarket, will now be known as “Asian Town,” according to the property manager.

A spokesperson for Ibin Ajayan Projects told Doha News that “Asian Town” was the original name given to the development when the government commissioned its construction. He also said the label reflects the customers the company wants to attract.

The spokesperson, who asked not to be named, added that Asian Town is meant to provide affordable amenities and services to the country’s low-income workforce close to where they live.

“Laborers are the most important part of (achieving) Qatar’s vision,” he said. “They are the manpower. Qatar (constructs developments such as Asian Town) as an appreciation for them.”

Barwa Al Baraha

Peter Kovessy

Barwa Al Baraha

In addition to that development, the Industrial Area is home to Barwa Al Baraha, a “Workers’ City” project aimed at providing quality housing to construction workers in Qatar.

However, both developments are located far from central Doha, and their construction was initiated alongside other efforts to push blue-collar workers out of established residential areas and shopping malls.

These have included “family only” days at some retail centers and a ban on male laborers living in some centrally located neighborhoods.

New developments

Thousands of people turned up in October 2013 to celebrate the opening of the first phase of what was then known as West End Park.

Grand Mall opening

Penny Yi Wang

Grand Mall opening

While the Ibin Ajayan Projects spokesperson said he didn’t have precise visitor numbers on hand, he estimated that some 5,000 people pass through the complex on a typical day. That figure goes up to 12,000 on weekends and for special events.

He said the development is popular with families as well as expat men.

The project’s build-out has continued and will soon include a new plaza-style mall with 240 shops selling clothing, glasses and coffee at prices meant to be affordable to low-income shoppers, the spokesperson said.

He added that the first stores in the new mall would open as part of a soft launch later this month.

West End Park Cinema

Chantelle D'mello

West End Park Cinema

Next week, a third cinema is set to start screening films and will be joined by a fourth cinema by early June, the spokesperson said.

The theaters charge a relatively low QR20 per ticket and focus on Hindi and Tamil movies aimed at Qatar’s large Indian population.

International films – such as the popular Fast & Furious 7, which the spokesperson said would be screened later this month – are also shown.

Separately, an outlet mall with some 170 stores is also expected to open in the complex later this year.

Despite mandating that retailers charge comparatively low prices, the spokesperson said there’s been no challenges finding retail tenants since Asian Town’s proximity to the Industrial Area all but guarantees a steady stream of customers.

National Sports Day

Chantelle D'mello

National Sports Day

The developer also works to increase the number of visitors through special events such as celebrations last Friday that saw performances by singers from India, Nepal and the Philippines in addition to cultural dances and sporting events.

It’s also a popular venue for events that cater to the south Asian community, such as National Day celebrations and National Sports Day activities.

“Our vision is to make it a destination for shopping and for dinner for the laborer community,” the spokesperson said.

Thoughts?