An investment group aiming to build a 20,000-seat cricket stadium in metro Atlanta has closed a deal to purchase Gwinnett Place Mall, according to a report by Bisnow, a commercial real estate publication.
The struggling mall would be repurposed into a stadium that would be surrounded by a mixed-use project that would include retail, residential and office space.
Early estimates pegged the planned investment at $70 to $125 million for the stadium alone, plus an additional $80 to $100 million for ancillary developments.
Real estate advisory firm Jones Lang LaSalle, which helped develop the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta complex surrounding it, was tapped in 2017 to consult on site selection for the cricket development.
The firm said early on that it would recommend areas with enough space to create similarly transformational developments using the stadium as an anchor but generating a diverse base of economic activity.
The Atlanta stadium would house one of eight teams an entity called Global Sports Ventures aims to field from around the United States to form the U.S. Cricket League, which would be the first American professional league for one of the world’s most popular sports.
Cricket is extremely popular in India as well as in the United Kingdom and many former and current Commonwealth countries like South Africa, Australia and many nations in South Asia and the Caribbean. While it may be new to many Americans, growing immigrant communities in the U.S. make the country second only to India in global cricket viewership. About 1.4 million American households tuned into cricket matches last year, according to a JLL news release.
Jignesh “Jay” Pandya, who chairs Global Sports Ventures, has said Atlanta represents an ideal location for one of the franchises, given its strong South Asian population and appetite for sports.
He told Global Atlanta in a 2017 interview after the initial announcement that his ambitious plans to build the first stadiums by 2020 would be accelerated if receptive governments provide the tax structures that would help make the planned investments viable.
Taxpayers have become wary of publicly funded stadiums, and that’s one reason the anchor model has become so promising. For that reason, JLL executives say developers need more than just a large piece of land. They need to be ready to make the case to counties and cities that such developments were spur job creation, both during construction and in the operational phase.
“The immediate surrounding area is as important as the subject property,” David Demarest, an Atlanta-based international director at JLL Americas, said in an early news release.
Read more on the real estate aspects of the deal from Bisnow, which had previously reported on the group’s interest in Gwinnett Place Mall: Cricket League Owner Agrees To Buy Gwinnett Place Mall For 20,000-Seat Stadium
Read more from Global Atlanta: Atlanta Chosen as One of Eight National Venues to Participate in a Nascent Professional Cricket League