(HOUSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL) - Lovers of cricket — the British game involving a bat, a ball, pitches and a field that isn't baseball — have 84 acres of new development to look forward to.
Tanweer Ahmed, a local businessman, is developing an 84-acre cricket complex in far northwest Houston, a Wolff Cos. spokesperson told the Houston Business Journal. The complex will be called the Prairie View Cricket Complex and offer between 12 and 14 cricket fields. Two fields should be usable by April, and the remaining fields will be ready for play by second quarter 2019.
“More cricket fields are badly needed in Houston," Ahmed said in a statement to the HBJ. “There are numerous cricket leagues and teams in the Houston area and only nine fields between Humble and East Bernard."
Ahmed purchased 67.9 acres from Wolff Cos. for an undisclosed price, a Wolff spokesperson said. He already owned an adjacent 16-acre tract, the spokesperson said. Costs associated with the development weren't disclosed.
The Houston Cricket League currently has 28 teams, and the new Prairie View Cricket Complex will allow the league to nearly double that figure, Ahmed said. It'll also allow the league to more easily hold tournaments; most of the league's cricket fields are scattered throughout the greater Houston area.
Ahmed isn't receiving tax abatements or incentives on the land, Prairie View Mayor David Allen told HBJ, though that may change. The city's economic development council is still exploring funding opportunities for the complex.
In recent weeks, Allen has met with or spoken with the president of the Houston Cricket Association, officials from Waller Independent School District, Hempstead ISD and Prairie View A&M University. Students and faculty from Prairie View A&M University's architecture program will design the cricket complex, Allen said. He's working to bolster the area's cricket community and development around the complex, which he said will be unparalleled on a national scale.
"I am ecstatic," Allen said. "We sorely need this development."
One of the goals of the Prairie View Cricket Complex is to host a match between Pakistan's national cricket team and India's national cricket team, Allen said. Two international fields with a combined 10,000-seat complex could host the game, Allen said. Those will be the first two fields to deliver in the Prairie View Cricket Complex.
For the broader Houston community, the development is a much-needed one, and one that reflects the diversity of the city and its surrounding communities. Allen said there's a group of 50 or 60 Prairie View Texas A&M students who play cricket on an old playground. Ahmed said that no new teams can join the Houston Cricket League because there simply aren't enough fields to host new teams. And with Houston's Asian population increasing faster than any other ethnic group, per research from Rice University's Kinder Institute, an appetite for cricket is expected to grow.
“In more than 50 years of business, this is one of our most exciting and gratifying transactions,” David Wolff, chairman and president of Wolff Cos., said in a statement to the HBJ. “The deal hits a personal chord for me because Tanweer is an immigrant and a Muslim who came here for the same reasons as my Jewish father came to the United States almost a century ago: work hard, achieve financial security, raise good families and help others. When Tanweer told me of his plans, … I was thrilled.”