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Cricket In Van Cortland Park And Its Needs

Jan. 3rd, 2010
Van Cortlandt Park, 1,146 acres atop the ridges and valleys of the Northwest Bronx, is one of New York City’s largest parks. Playing fields and playgrounds are scattered about the park’s edges, surrounding a rich forested heartland fed by Tibbetts Brook. Van Cortlandt was established as a park in 1881 and is home to the country’s first public golf course, the oldest house in the Bronx, and the borough’s largest freshwater lake. From the quiet green shade of its oak forests to the crisp, white mantle of cricket players on the Parade Ground, the park boasts a past steeped in early American history and present-day richness in cultural diversity, all while blessed with the intrinsic beauty of nature.

Two games being played at Van Cortland Park last summer. Photo by Shiek Mohamed.

Cricket has been played in Van Cortlandt Park on the Parade Ground since the early 1900s. Along with horseback riding and hiking, it is one of the oldest sports played in the park and only now is its popularity beginning to rise. Currently, Van Cortlandt Park is a mecca for cricket in the United States. There are four leagues that play in the park: Commonwealth Cricket League, New York Cricket League, West Indian Softball Association, and an all women’s league. The nearby Dewitt-Clinton High School is planning on fielding a team there, and further growth is encouraged among the players.

The 65-acre Parade Ground is undergoing a renovation. Half of the site will see the construction of six brand new, full-sized cricket fields, with the opportunity to add four more fields in the future. To our knowledge there is no other space in the United States with this many cricket fields in one location. The Parade Ground will have new drainage, 800 irrigation heads and clay pitches making this a prime site to incubate cricket as an American sport.

Our challenge is to sustain the upgrades to these emerald fields rather than let conditions deteriorate once the construction fences are down. That means the new irrigation system with 800 retractable heads will require daily inspection and repair; the landscape will need skilled aeration and seeding, clay replenishment and grooming, and proper grass cutting. We will also need to continue placement of red flags when fields are wet and create resting fields for grass to rehabilitate after rough use. Ideally, security staff is necessary to discourage littering and protect fields from unauthorized vehicles driving on them day or night.

The Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, a non-profit organization created in 2009, assists the Parks Department in maintenance, programming and public outreach. Together cricket aficionados and the Conservancy can raise enough awareness to sustain the new grandeur of the Parade Ground. We can make cricket grow in the USA right here.

For more information or to make a donation towards care of the fields, please contact the
Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy at 718-430-1890 or VCPConservancy@parks.nyc.gov.

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