Cricket enthusiasts cheer on hope of world class stadium in Brampton
The City of Brampton is hoping to score a run with plans to develop a multi-purpose cricket facility surrounded by a "new urban core with major transit-oriented opportunities for high-density residential, business, leisure and tourism."
The city is launching an expression of interest process for companies interested in taking on the challenge of transforming City Lands, a site located by Highways 410 & 407, following a public survey that closed on Feb. 28.
A potential project that would transform the 112-acre site owned by the city has been in the works for years as part of the city's 'Living the Mosaic' 2040 vision, which aimed to create "complete neighbourhoods" and support multiculturalism in its decision-making.
"The numbers don't lie," Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown told CBC Toronto. "You'll go by baseball diamonds and hockey rinks that are not used ... Yet, when it comes to cricket, there's literally 400 teams on the waitlist that can't get time."
Brown said the site — which is currently undeveloped, apart from one hockey arena to be retained — will have multiple uses. He said the decision to prioritize cricket is leaning into the "mosaic" that is a demographically changed Brampton, including diaspora populations that love the sport.
"We're building recreation, not for 1961 Brampton, but for the decades to come," Brown said.
While the cricket facility has become a centre-piece of the intended project, many residents who spoke to CBC News said it's about what opens up between residents by inviting a cricket facility into the space, not only the game itself.
"We're having a difficult time making the transition from bedroom communities into full-blown cities," said Harminder Dhillon, a founding member of resident advocacy group, Engage Peel.
"Public spaces so the community will come together, celebrate joys and mingle with each other, and build a sense of community, celebrate multiculturalism ... we don't have those spaces."
'We definitely need this'
He said he feels confident this project will help Brampton transition to a healthier community by building social connections and opportunities to learn about each other. Dhillon does not play cricket himself, but lives near the site and plans to visit the new community often.
He thinks anchoring the project on a cricket facility makes sense because the sport is popular in Brampton, with many actively looking for more spaces to gather to enjoy the sport.
"We definitely need this," he said.
CBC Toronto has obtained the results of an online survey commissioned by the city that was open to residents during the month of February. Of the 1,242 voluntary respondents, it found creating more parks and open space were key priorities in the planning and development of the site, followed by ensuring sustainability.
The survey found a public-private partnership was the preferred method to fund the facility.
When invited to list any concerns with the development, traffic was the most common response.
Many wanted to see the multi-purpose cricket facility take on additional outdoor community uses like providing a venue for concerts, movie screenings and public art installation.
For some residents, it's all about the cricket.
A young Brampton cricket player, Gurshaan Dhot, 10, who lives near the site, told CBC Toronto he thinks a cricket stadium is "a very good idea."
"I think it would be cool to have one in Brampton," he said, adding that his teammates talk about the prospect with excitement often. "We all want something in Brampton so we can play. So we don't want to have to go so far to be able to play."
He said he attended the Global T20 Canada on the site when a temporary set-up was arranged in 2019 and wished he could see more games with top players where he lives.
He isn't alone in hoping a stadium can make Brampton a top destination for top competitions.
Praim Persaud, president of the Brampton-Etobicoke & District Cricket League, said not having a stadium that allows Brampton to bring in teams competing at the international level is limiting.
The International Cricket Council needs criteria to be met to approve a facility for play.
"[Local] players need a facility where they can play at the same level as their counterparts around the world," he said. "This type of facility will make a difference."
Faraz Saleem, president of Brampton cricket league, said "the demand for cricket is ... overwhelming."
He said he has more than 50 local teams on a standby list, hoping to be let into his league, but he can only take two because there aren't enough cricket facilities in the city.
He said the new site, "should be a welcoming spot for the residents, even when there's no international cricket taking place."
Saleem said it is important to the league that slots are available for local teams to practise and play.
He hopes the grounds will be like Lord's Cricket Ground in London, England, which has hotels and other elements surrounding the pitch.
"It's almost the hub of the whole neighborhood ... People are coming and going and stimulating the economy."