Efforts on to save top cricket club
By NOUMAN KHALIL
Rescue efforts are on to save Canada’s biggest international cricket venue from being closing its doors – at least for the current season.
The Township of King this past week served last and final notice to the Maple Leaf Cricket Club to install proper fencing and netting by June 15, otherwise the Municipality will complete the work with all costs incurred to the MLCC. Focus has learnt the neighbourhood has been complaining about balls or persons going into their property since 2001 and the city has warned several times; however the club was unable to complete the work due to shortage of funds.
Once Maple Leaf Cricket Club was the only venue in North America that could meet the ICC requirements of hosting an international match or a tournament.
Today, Canada has lost a golden opportunity of hosting ICC Under-19 World Cup, whereas cricket giants Sri Lanka and New Zealand last weekend played a two-match Twenty20 series in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The MLCC has been on a bumpy ride since the beginning of this year allegedly due to more than $100,000 in missing funds and didn’t even have money for soiling the grounds for the current season.
Pandit Maharaj, the club president, last weekend convened an emergency “rescue MLCC meeting.”
The “rescue MLCC meeting” was attended by the representatives of Cricket Canada, Ontario Cricket Association as well as Toronto and District Cricket Association.
According to Maharaj, around $300,000 is required for a complete 20ft high chain-link steel fencing to cover all five grounds, with a 30ft high net on top of it.
However, he said at present some $120,000 is immediately needed to cover the north site where the neighbourhood is facing more problems.
“I know it is difficult, but we have to do it before the deadline of June 15, otherwise there will be no cricket at Maple Leaf,” Maharaj told Focus.
The City declined comment on the issue.
In the rescue meeting, both Cricket Canada and T&DCA promised $10,000 to $20,000 each whereas OCA showed its interest in lending the complete $120,000 as an interest-free loan, subject to its board’s approval.
“Our member leagues are decent and cricket lovers and I hope they will approve this loan for the betterment of the sport,” Melvin John, OCA’s senior coordinator, told Focus.
“But we should have first right to use the grounds,” John indicated – an expected condition that may be linked to the loan.
He revealed the OCA will recover the loan by hosting national premier tournaments or international matches at King City.
In 2008, King City had warned representatives from Cricket Canada, Ontario Cricket Association, Toronto&District Cricket Association as well as Maple Leaf Cricket Club of serious consequences if the fence is not installed. The city was assured the job would be completed shortly.
Maharaj said in 2008 Cricket Canada and T&DCA promised ‘letters of intent’ to the City, but no one has yet come up with any concrete work.
“The City has been very, very kind and patient and that’s why these people break promises and think it’s a joke. But the matter is seriousâ?¦ if the City puts the fence, the cost will be huge,” said Maharaj.
“And if we are unable to pay, the township authorities can do any thingâ?¦ they can seal the club (or) they can sell the club,” warned Maharaj.
“In case we fail to meet the deadline, I’m going to table a proposal before my board to change the club’s status from ‘non-profit’ to ‘non-profit charity’ organization,” revealed Maharaj. He said this way he will have the option of raising money.