The GMR Group (co-owners of Delhi Capitals) and Microsoft chairman & CEO Satya Nadella and GMR Group led consortium have bagged the rights to own and operate a team in Major League Cricket (MLC), a new T20 franchise league in the USA, which is scheduled to be launched this July.
In a media release issued on Thursday night, the MLC confirmed that the franchise would be called Seattle Orcas. Notably, Orcas, a killer whale native to the ocean waters around Seattle, is considered a symbol of power and strength.
Other than Nadella and GMR, the other investors in the Orcas franchise comprise Soma Somasegar (managing director of Madrona Ventures), Samir Bodas (co-founder and CEO, Icertis), Ashok Krishnamurthi (managing partner, GreatPoint Ventures) and Sanjay Parthasarathy (former senior executive at Microsoft and Avalara).
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"We see America as the new frontier for cricket's growth globally, and the Pacific Northwest provides an incredible opportunity for us to bring the resources of GMR Sports to the region and help the Seattle Orcas build a team competing for championships," said Kiran Kumar Grandhi, Managing Director, and CEO of GMR Group, a Co-Owner of Delhi Capitals.
The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed for American cricket, with a vibrant youth scene and the current reigning Minor League Cricket champions, the Seattle Thunderbolts, hailing from the area. It's going to be exciting to see the Seattle Orcas build on that platform and compete in the inaugural Major League Cricket championship this summer," said Justin Geale, MLC Tournament Director.
Meanwhile, other IPL franchises Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings have also bought stakes in MLC. MI, who also have teams in the SA20 and the ILT20 apart from the IPL, will run the New York franchise while Super Kings, who also owns a team in the SA20 will run the Dallas franchise in Texas along with local investors Anurag Jain and Ross Petrot Jr.
Notably, Kolkata Knight Riders was the first IPL franchise to enter the MLC circuit, associating themselves with Los Angeles. The arrival of three others means four out of the six teams in MLC overall will be helmed by IPL franchises,
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The two other franchises in the league are based out of Washington DC and San Francisco. The Washington DC franchise -- to be called Washington Freedom -- is owned by local American investor Sanjay Govil, who has tied up with New South Wales Cricket, to provide the operational expertise including helping set up the squad and putting a cricketing structure in place. A similar strategic tie-up has been struck between the San Francisco franchise, owned by Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan, and Cricket Victoria.
The inaugural season of MLC will be played between July 13 and 30 at the newly renovated facility in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, Texas, with the player draft for local US players scheduled to be on March 19 at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The squad size will comprise minimum 15 and maximum 18 players, of which nine can be overseas players. At least six players in the playing XI will need to be from the USA. The overseas players will be direct signings by the franchises, not part of the draft.
It is understood that teams will have a purse of USD 800,000 for overseas signings and USD 300,000 for the US-based players.