Seattle is diving into professional cricket with a new franchise, the Orcas
Seattle’s sports scene will be home to another franchise – and sport – as the Orcas will represent the Emerald City in Major League Cricket (MLC).
Seattle will be one of six US cities with a team in the MLC, along with Dallas, San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, DC
Seattle Orcas’ lead group of investors includes Satya Nadella (Chairman and CEO of Microsoft), Sanjay Parthasarathy (a former executive at Microsoft and Avalara), Soma Somasegar (Managing Director of Madrona Ventures), Samir Bodas (Co-Founder and CEO, Icertis) and Ashok Krishnamurthi (Managing Partner, GreatPoint Ventures).
Nadella and Somasegar are also part of the Seattle Sounders FC ownership group.
“We are extremely excited to bring world-class cricket to the Pacific Northwest, which has a vibrant and passionate community of cricket and sports fans,” Somasegar said in a prepared statement. “The Orca name and team colors pay tribute to our local community who helped build this spirit of support. We are delighted to be working with GMR Group, co-owner of Delhi Capitals, to help us launch this summer with the best possible team.”
The team’s emblem prominently features an orca, which the Georgia Strait Alliance says has been a West Coast symbol for many thousands of years, as the animal has been a symbol of belief systems, art and storytelling for many local Indigenous peoples. Still, the franchise made sure to include a lime green highlight, a continuous line connecting all sports teams in the Puget Sound area.
Puget Sound is home to four species of orcas. According to data from February 2021, the southern resident orca population has declined to just 75, while the northern resident orca population has grown to around 240-260.
The population of Bigg’s Killer Whales is increasing – to around 400 whales – while there are still around 300 offshore orcas in the region.
“We see America as the new frontier for cricket’s global growth, and the Pacific Northwest offers us an incredible opportunity to bring the resources of GMR Sports to the region and help the Seattle Orcas build a team fighting for championships is struggling,” said Kiran Kumar Grandhi, Managing Director and CEO of GMR Group, a co-owner of Delhi Capitals.
The first-ever player draft for the Major League Cricket Twenty20 tournament will take place on March 19 at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, with the tournament scheduled to begin in July.
While Seattle will not host any games during its debut season, the Seattle Orcas are working with King County and the City of Bellevue to build a cricket community park. Included in the construction would be a 50-acre facility with the intention of accommodating up to 6,000 people for future Seattle Orcas games and other cricket events.
Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world after football, attracting a global audience of more than 2.5 billion viewers.
Seattle has had previous stints in professional cricket including founding the Seattle Thunderbolts in 2021, a local team that competed in the Toyota Minor League Cricket Championship. The tournament featured 27 teams in 21 US cities playing more than 200 games over a 10-week period during the summer of 2021.
This article was originally published by MyNorthwest.