Warwickshire chief executive insists The Hundred and Vitality Blast can coexist
Warwickshire chief executive Stuart Cain rejected the “lazy” assertion that Vitality Blast ticket sales have been primarily affected by The Hundred.
Ticket uptake ahead of the 20th edition of England’s domestic T20 competition, beginning on Wednesday, was described by one county source in the Daily Telegraph as “very slow” almost “across the board”.
In the first year where there will no limits on crowd capacities since The Hundred’s inception last summer, those remarks have led to questions about whether the two white-ball competitions can coexist.
Cain is adamant they can, pointing out Warwickshire’s own ticket sales are comparable to pre-pandemic levels, as he urged counties to stop the blame game and find ways to make both competitions successful.
He told the PA news agency: “Is The Hundred a good or a bad thing? Well, that was agreed a couple of years ago when all the counties voted to do it. The genie’s out the bottle with that one.
“It would be unrealistic to think there would be no impact on the Blast, of course it’s going to have an impact. I just think there’s got to be a bit of balance, it’s a bit lazy to blame The Hundred.
“There’s room for the two. You’ve just got to think holistically about how do you fill the summer with those white-ball tournaments? How do we address some of the things that have hit us this year?
“We’ve got to think cleverly about how we market the Blast and The Hundred. It’s about focusing on that rather than keep fighting among ourselves about whether The Hundred is a good or a bad thing.”
Edgbaston is set for a bumper summer, including staging the entirety of cricket’s return to the Commonwealth Games for the first time since 1998, with Cain encouraged by “massive” ticket sales.
Cain said: “We’ve proved there’s appetite for summer cricket. If the Commonwealth Games wasn’t selling, if The Hundred wasn’t selling, it would feel like there’s a problem, but we’re not experiencing that.”
Warwickshire will host Finals Day for the 14th time on July 16 and that has already sold out while Cain believes there are plenty of mitigating factors to account for any sluggish ticket sales.
As well as this being the earliest start to the competition since 2016, there has only been a shortened window to buy tickets as the fixtures were only released in late January when it is usually November.
The cost of living crisis as well as office workers continuing to work from home and therefore not going to a match after their shift finishes could also be factors, according to Cain.
He added: “People haven’t done it since 2019 anyway so they’ve got out the habit, we’ve got to get people back into the habit.
“We’re all feeling the pinch. That’s a major issue at the moment; how much money have people got in their pockets?
“There’s a whole bunch of things anyone in the sport sector or entertainment sector are having to wrestle with.
“It becomes even more important about why you should celebrate the two tournaments and try and promote them as hard as you can rather than just try and play them off against each other.”
Cain revealed their research – Edgbaston is one of the eight venues for The Hundred and plays host to Birmingham Phoenix matches – indicates only “three or four per cent” of tickets purchased were by people who had previously bought one for the Blast to watch Birmingham Bears.
An ECB spokesperson said: “We are investing more resource into marketing the Vitality Blast than ever before while the counties have worked expertly to sell the largest number of tickets per day for the competition in its 20-year history.
“With the opening matches set to begin, starting with a repeat of last year’s final between Kent Spitfires and Somerset, we are looking forward to the high-quality cricket and vibrant atmospheres up and down the country that has made the Vitality Blast much loved by fans for two decades.”
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