Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup: PMY Group, Populous Get Nassau County International Cricket Stadium Ready in Record Time

The temporary venue will host its eighth and final match between the U.S. and India on June 12

Thursday, June 6 may go down as the most important day in the history of United States Cricket: the U.S. national team scored an upset victory over highly favored Pakistan and the highly anticipated, 34,000-capacity Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in East Meadow, NY was in its third day of operation. Hosting eight Group Stage matches in the Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup, the new venue was constructed in less than half a year because of the trust between the International Cricket Council (ICC) and its partners, including architectural design by Populous and technological planning by PMY Group.

“We’ve never been a part of bringing to life a 34,000-seat venue that was fully capable in five months,” says Logan Meier, VP/executive GM, USA, PMY Group. “It took a small army of companies to make it all work, but, from a technological perspective, we were able to go from having absolutely nothing to bringing together elements that typically take years to design and put into place. This was unlike any other project that I’ve ever been involved in.”

Jumping Aboard: ICC Taps PMY Group, Populous To Handle the Project

The ICC announcement that the Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup would be held in the U.S. and the West Indies was made in November 2021, but the physical construction of Nassau County International Cricket Stadium didn’t begin until February 2024. Populous, a company known for permanent sports venues domestically and abroad, was tapped by the organization to plot out the design of the temporary structure on Long Island.

To complete the venue before the first game between Sri Lanka and South Africa on June 3, Populous leveraged its longstanding relationship with the ICC. That partnership has seen construction of several world-class cricket stadiums, including Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, India, which hosted the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup Final; Sky Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, a host venue during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup; and redevelopment of the world-renowned Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia.

“Working in close concert with the ICC and T20 USA has been of the utmost importance to everyone involved with this stadium,” says Jeff Keas, senior principal, Populous. “Our design was heavily influenced and inspired by the world-class standard that the ICC has set for its competitors and fans. Knowing the caliber of talent who’d be playing on the grounds, we knew it had to be special. The result is a remarkable experience for both U.S. and international cricket fans and players to enjoy some of the sport’s greatest and most coveted rivalries.”

Populous reused grandstands from the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium.

Building the temporary behemoth was crucial, but equipping it with the necessary workflows to host and entertain massive numbers of people was extremely important. To integrate that aspect in the best way possible, the ICC and one of its most valued partners, The Parker Company — an entity responsible for procurement of equipment and project management — outsourced the overall tech roadmapping to another company: PMY Group, a multifaceted and full-service technology-solutions company experienced in the sports and entertainment business through subsidiaries like technology design firm WJHW and involvement at high-profile sports events like The Open Championship in golf and the Australian Open in tennis. PMY Group had targeted the Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup and had kept in touch with Populous when the firm was brought on and had fruitful conversations with members on the project.

“We stressed that we could handle the planning of risk management and contract negotiations, physically deploying resources onsite, and managing all of the venue’s technology,” says Meier. “We were able to share our experience, and, when [the ICC and The Parker Company] mentioned that they didn’t have anyone heading up their technological efforts, we were more than ready to fill in that role.”

Top-Tier Commitment: High-Quality Infrastructure, Tech Are Part of the Plan

Building a temporary facility for a major sports event or tournament isn’t a brand-new concept. More than a decade ago, The Basketball Arena in London’s Olympic Park, constructed and opened in 2011 before the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, was demolished in January 2013. The effort was repeated less than two years ago around the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar: Stadium 974 in Doha’s Ras Abu Aboud district was outfitted with removable shipping containers as its exterior and became the first temporary venue in the competition’s 94-year history. For the Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup, the main difference is that the venue was built from the ground up within an extremely tight deadline. The daunting task, however, was no match for Populous’s expertise.

“Though implementing a modular, temporary stadium was a world first for cricket,” notes Keas, “our team at Populous has been designing modular stadiums and venues for decades — including numerous temporary stadiums and event spaces for the Olympic Games and MLB. We also knew that the team that was assembled to bring this stadium to life was second to none, each working in close collaboration with the next to ensure this stadium was a success. The Parker Company, Arena Group [for temporary hospitality], Alchemy [for construction management], Landtek Group [for growing the playing surface], ME Engineers [for multipurpose engineering], PMY Group, and so many others were vital in the construction of the stadium.”

Fans and media can tap into more than 60 switches and 150 wireless access points of event network connectivity.

Without time to waste, Populous needed to advise on where each physical piece of the puzzle would be obtained. This meant acquiring grandstands that would host tens of thousands of passionate cricket fans, as well as furnishings for luxury suites. Many were recycled from other major sports events, including grandstands used at the inaugural Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix.

“Sustainability was key on this project,” adds Keas. “Once the Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup has completed, all elements will go back and be reutilized for future sporting events, like golf tournaments, the Olympic Games, and Formula 1.

On the technological side, Meir relied on the skills of his core team — including VP, Technology Delivery, MENA, Dan Molloy; Director, Advisory and Operations, USA, John Niovich; and Senior Project Manager Ray Herschell — and the solutions of numerous vendors: Safari Solutions for feedback on tech implementation, GoVision for LED displays, API Media for widespread video distribution, Unified Command for security, and Maryland Sound International for in-venue audio.

Inside the venue, PMY Group installed many behind-the-scenes features that ensure a smooth production and a safe in-venue atmosphere. Among them are more than 60 switches and 150 wireless access points for event network connectivity; two 60- by 26-ft. videoboards with 6-mm pixel pitch; more than 100 IPTV displays; 10 ground- and aerial-based line-array speaker stacks and supplemental small-format audio in premium spaces; wireless-frequency management; integration of AV, game presentation, and broadcast-video and -audio feeds; integration and oversight of game management, scoring, and ticket scanning; more than 300 two-way radios for real-time communication among event staff; VoIP and end-user equipment; and video surveillance with more than 50 cameras and an onsite emergency-management and -monitoring system.

A handful of these solutions and services, such as security and safety measures, were non-negotiables in ensuring a pleasurable time for fans in attendance. Others, like additional points for interaction and higher-end technological additives, weren’t as paramount but would mean a more memorable time for the in-venue audience. Long story short: the building would be open for only eight games over the course of 10 days, but fans were still anticipating a premium experience.

“They expect to walk into the venue and take in a first-class event,” says Meier, “so we specified a [baseline] suite of technologies but also recommended areas where the ICC could emphasize additional value. We were able to take much of the gear and equipment at our disposal to provide them with a solution.”

The temporary nature of the structure’s existence didn’t deter Populous heading into the project. “From an operational, experiential, and revenue-generation perspective,” Keas explains, “we took the same approach as we would with any venue. T20 USA provided a market study for general and premium seating, and our team at Populous used that information as a basis of a design that accommodated multiple viewing options and experiences.”

Logistical Challenges: Inclement Weather, Partners’ Other Responsibilities

Given the enormous scope of the project and its complexity, both Populous and PMY Group faces challenges. Structurally, since the venue is located in Eisenhower Park, Populous had to meticulously plan around a location frequented by the public and susceptible to inclement weather at the tail end of winter: the onsite crew, for example, had to deal with 27 days of rain or snow.

Maryland Sound International supplied 10 ground- and aerial-based line-array speaker stacks and supplemental small-format audio in premium spaces.

“The timeline to create a world-class stadium was the greatest challenge that the entire team was presented with but overcame,” says Keas. “With a definitive date when the matches began, the design, construction, and implementation was on a very strict timeline. Even when above-average amounts of snow and rain rolled through the area, the teams were able to create something truly remarkable. This is an amazing testament to the hard work of all the teams because the project was never behind schedule, regardless of the conditions.”

Besides Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, PMY Group had the same role at two other stadiums in the U.S.: Central Broward Park & Broward County Stadium in Lauderhill, FL, and Grand Prairie Stadium in Grand Prairie, TX. Those buildings have been open and operational for nearly two decades, and, after the Long Island–based venue was completed, the next item on PMY Group’s agenda was to apply the plan to each of the other two stadiums.

“We outlined the tech plan and requirements [for the stadium in East Meadow] in 30 days and gave it to the ICC [in case] they wanted another company to use these guidelines [in Florida and Texas],” says Meier, “but they wanted us to support those venues as well. We sat down to see what the bare minimum had to be done to meet these specifications and brought in resources from throughout the U.S. to help manage these two facilities.”

Impressive Build in Shortened Time: Planning, Collaboration Prove Pivotal

With the arduous planning and brainstorming behind them, Meier and his colleagues at PMY Group can now reflect on the results of their effort. Many lessons have been learned, and, besides the prospect of having more time to fine-tune the plan, there are two noticeable takeaways: rely on the partners working alongside you and focus on the positives that can be repeated.

“When you have great partners to rely on,” Meier adds, “truly lean into those groups. In addition, if something similar is to be done in the future, figure out the things that you don’t want to cut corners on.”

GoVision provided two 60- by 26-ft. videoboards with 6-mm pixel pitch.

Although the venue won’t be visible in Eisenhower Park for long after Wednesday’s matinee between the U.S. and India, the partners’ sheer determination to complete a venue of this magnitude will live on in its effect on the industry. Hosting a sport that is the second–most-watched in the world, the building could be seen as emblematic of cricket’s slow growth in popularity in the U.S. For now, its legacy could become the blueprint for large- and small-scale sports events.

“Globally, cricket is one of the most popular and beloved sports, boasting a passionate fanbase and tenacious rivalries,” notes Keas, “but, within the U.S., it remains relatively unknown. The Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup brings unparalleled visibility to our shores and ushers in a new generation of spectators and fans. Although the temporary and modular elements will be disassembled and reused, the world-class field in Nassau County will remain intact for the community to use and enjoy. Local clubs and cricketers will be able to play on the same grass as the world’s greatest, which is something we and all our partners are incredibly proud of.”

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