Floating hotels to keep World Cup fans afloat

Published: Tuesday, July 6, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Floating hotels are set to help countries in the West Indies cope with the massive influx of cricket followers expected during the 2007 World Cup.

West Indies will be hosting the ninth edition of cricket's showpiece One-day tournament for the first time despite fears that some Caribbean countries' already hard-pressed tourist infrastructure would struggle with the demands of a World Cup.

But West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Teddy Griffith, announcing the eight World Cup venues at a London hotel opposite Lord's Cricket Ground, said ships could help take the strain.

"There is the possibility, maybe the probability, of using some floating hotels."

And he added that this did not mean that cricket fans, already facing an expensive trip, would have to spend lavish amounts of money booking into giant cruise ships.

"At the start of this, lots of people thought that if you were talking about floating hotels, you needed to be thinking of the mega-ships.

"But all the information we now have that there is an adequacy of the smaller and more economic situations in the 6-800 room range rather than the thousands of room range."

The eight venues were chosen from a total of 12 bids with seven of the successful candidates Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and Trinidad all islands while the other, Guyana, is a South American country with an extensive coastline.

Among the losing bidders was the United States, which wanted to stage World Cup matches in Florida.

The country has long been targeted as an expansion area by cricket chiefs and in September a team from the United States will feature in the Champions Trophy One-day event, a 'mini World Cup', in England.

But International Cricket Council (ICC) president Ehsan Mani, speaking on the same platform as Griffith, said: "From a development point of view, the US had attractions but the decision was based on strict criteria."

Mani admitted that security and visa concerns had counted against the United States but said it would still be considered for warm-up games.

And Griffith stressed: "It (the World Cup) will be a Caribbean event with a distinctive Caribbean flavour."

The other unsuccesful bids came from St Vincent and the Grenadines, a second stadium in Jamaica and Bermuda although the latter has been given 'standby' status in the event of problems elsewhere.

Six World Cup sites will be upgraded while Antigua and Guyana will both have new, purpose-built, grounds. The average capacity will be 20,000.

Although the West Indies - who won the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979 - are a longstanding major cricket nation, economic conditions in the Caribbean have seen them struggle to keep pace financially.

However, Mani predicted a World Cup windfall for the West Indies who will get 46 percent of the tournament's gross revenues, and benefit by approximately 100 million dollars.

The 2007 World Cup will feature 16 teams, the most in the competition's history, who between them will play 51 matches.

Last year's World Cup, in South Africa, was widely criticised for being too long at 43 days and the 2007 event is set to be of similar duration.

By contrast, this August's Athens Olympic Games will last 16 days.

But organisers point out the creation of four first-round groups of four rather than two of seven has helped reduce by three the number of matches.

A fixture schedule is due to be announced in Jamaica on July 13.

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