Businesses on Long Island are getting ready for the cricket tournament's India vs. Pakistan match. NewsdayTV's Macy Egeland Reports. Credit: Newsday/Kendall Rodriguez, John C. Williams

Alishbah Mirza is a die-hard cricket fan — so much that when India hosted an international tourney in the fall, she set her alarm for 4 a.m. so she wouldn’t miss the action.

“Literally, every single match … I used to get up just to start watching the matches because the hype was so much,” said Mirza, 20, a dentistry student at Farmingdale State College.

But when Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup matches kick off at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, not far from her Hicksville home and at the more reasonable hour of 10:30 a.m., Mirza will be lucky if she can watch any match — especially when her home country, Pakistan, faces off against longtime cricket rival India. She'll be busy tending the counter at the popular Bengali Sweet Shop in Hicksville, which expects to draw cricket fans to nibble on snacks and sweets like samosa chaat and gulab jamun and drink chai while watching the tournament on the store's TV screens.

“We will have to ramp up, [and add] more employees and staff,” owner Rajesh Kumar said. On a normal weekday, he'd have two people working in the shop, but on match days he'll be bringing in all his part-time employees for a total staff of seven, he said. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The T20 World Cup tournament on Long Island is expected to generate $150 million to $160 million in economic activity in Nassau County, officials said.
  • Hotels around Eisenhower Park are filling up for the June dates, and some places are charging premium rates — more than twice their usual nightly charge. 
  • Some restaurants that cater to customers from countries with large cricket fan based are installing televisions or holding watch parties for those who can’t get tickets.

With Nassau playing host to the World Cup, workers at the sweet shop on South Broadway and a few other area businesses told Newsday they are ready to deal with the scores of fans expected to eat, shop, play and hunker down at hotels during the 12-day event at the park. Most of the world’s top teams, including India, Pakistan and South Africa, will play at the county park's temporary 34,000-seat stadium. The tournament's nine matches on Long Island, including the warmup on Saturday, are expected to generate $150 million to $160 million in revenue for local businesses and the county, a sports economist and a county official projected.

The International Cricket Council, the governing body for the sport also known as ICC, did not provide estimates of the number of tourists expected to come to the county for the tournament. 

Rajesh Kumar, standing, in a blue jersey, who is owner...

Rajesh Kumar, standing, in a blue jersey, who is owner of Bengali Sweet Shop in Hicksville, said, he will be adding more employees and staff when cricket matches are underway at Eisenhower Park in Nassau. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

World Cup's economic impact on LI

Darcy Belyea, Nassau County commissioner of parks, recreation and museums, put the economic boost to the county at between $150 million and $160 million based on the financial impact of the T20 Cricket World Cup in Australia two years ago. That estimate includes revenue from hotel stays, dining, services at salons, as well as money spent on recreation, including playing golf or chartering a boat, Belyea said. 

“We're hoping that the spending is widespread” and that “people with some extra money to spend, they're going to be drawn to” malls like Roosevelt Field in Garden City and Americana in Manhasset, Belyea said.

Under a use and occupancy permit, T20 World Cup USA Inc., the nonprofit hosting the U.S. games for the ICC, is paying the county a $100,000 fee per match to reimburse the county for police, fire and medical expenses, Belyea said. The public works and parks departments will receive $25,000 per match for maintenance and repairs, including for the warmup match Saturday and the eight matches following that, she said. 

The county also will receive a portion of revenue from parking at the Nassau Coliseum and Nassau Community College, Belyea said. 

Off-site parking on county property for the matches is capped at $40, according to the permit issued to T20 World Cup USA. 

Rahmat Tokhi, manager and part-owner of East Meadow Shah's Halal franchise, said...

Rahmat Tokhi, manager and part-owner of East Meadow Shah's Halal franchise, said he is temporarily boosting staff to accommodate customers. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Travel packages inquiries 

Daniel Kelly II, a sports economist at New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport, also estimated the economic boost to Nassau will hit at least $150 million, but said, “It’s not because of new visitors to the area coming in” but because of the spending from the “immigrant populations, the West Indian, Caribbean population, plus the Indian American population” in the New York metro area.

Cricket is the second-most-popular sport in the world, and has a huge following in India, Pakistan, Australia, Jamaica and elsewhere.

Of the 5.8 million foreign-born people residing in the New York metro area, 1.3 million, or 23%, were from the Caribbean, including Jamaica and the West Indies, and 656,293, or 11%, were from South Central Asia, including India and Pakistan, according to the 2022 U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

The eight matches that will be played in Nassau are not the highest-stakes competitions, Kelly said.

Aside from India and Pakistan competing here, “The true high-stakes [semifinals and finals] matches for the tournament are going to be in the Caribbean. … I think those are going to be the locations that the majority of [international] travelers are going to come in for,” he said.

Iqbaljit Batra, co-owner of Travel Time & Tours, a travel agency in Hicksville, concurred, saying he’s getting inquiries about packages for the final match in Barbados but said people will wait to see how their teams perform before buying tickets.

Batra, who played cricket in college in India, said if India or Pakistan get into the finals, Long Island fans will be willing to pay a lot to see that match. 

Hotels in Barbados are already fully booked, he said, and the cost of a hospitality package for one person to travel from Long Island to Barbados, including airfare, accommodations and game ticket, could cost as much as $7,000. 

Mark Jones, an ICC spokesman in the United States, said in an email 75% of the tickets sold for the matches in Nassau County were to U.S. residents. The largest contingents of foreign ticket buyers are coming from Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia, he said.

Demand for hotels

Hotels around Eisenhower Park are filling up for the June dates, and some places are charging premium rates — more than twice their usual nightly charge. 

An informal survey of 12 hotels near the park found their bookings for the first two weeks of June were 8% higher than the same period last year, said Dorothy Roberts, president of the Northport-based Long Island Hospitality Association.

But June typically has been busy for Nassau County hotels because of wedding season and sporting events, such as the Belmont Stakes, an annual horse race that's been held at Belmont Park in Elmont for more than 100 years until this year, said Roberts, who is also vice president of hotel operations and development at Oxford Hospitality USA. The Jericho-based company owns the Hilton Garden Inns in Roslyn and Melville, and Homewood Suites by Hilton Long Island-Melville. 

The horse race will be held in Saratoga Springs this year and next because of renovations at Belmont Park.

The Garden City Hotel, a luxury facility that is the highest-priced hotel in Nassau County, had been the host hotel for the Belmont Stakes every June for decades until this year, said Carole Frohne, director of sales and marketing at the hotel, which is about 4½ miles from Eisenhower Park.

“This year was nice, having another event come to Long Island to help fill the gap … It helped compress the market, though, so we’re pretty much booked. We have a few rooms here and there, but, overall, we’re going to have a good June,” she said.

The hotel has 269 rooms, with rates ranging from $399 to $1,269 a night, for the first two weeks of June.

The Long Island Marriott in Uniondale has started to sell out of rooms recently, said Matt Fisher, director of sales and marketing at the 615-room hotel.

“Everything is happening last minute,” he said.

The hotel is 1.6 miles from Eisenhower Park.

Rooms are sold out on the nights before the popular matches, such as the match between Pakistan and India scheduled for June 9, he said.

The Marriott’s rates for the first two weeks of June have doubled due to high demand, and now range from $309 to $599 per night, he said.

Some teams and other large groups booked hotel rooms in Brooklyn to save money and because they wanted newer rooms, Fisher said.

As of May 27, the average daily rate at Airbnb and Vrbo short-term vacation rentals in Nassau County for June 3-12 was $239.64, which is similar to the average rate of $240.41 for the corresponding 10-day period last year, according to AirDNA, a Denver-based provider of analytics on the short-term rental industry.

The lack of a large price increase this year likely is due to more properties being available for short-term rentals, said Bram Gallagher, an economist at AirDNA.

Of the daily average of 937 short-term rental properties available June 3-12 in Nassau as of May 27, 453, or 48%, had been rented, according to AirDNA. At the same point last year, a daily average of 243, or 48%, of 504 available short-term rental properties in the county had been rented for the 10-day period.

“We’ve had a big increase in supply in Nassau County. Some of this could have come on board … for this tournament,” Gallagher said.

Hotel tax revenue is reported quarterly, so the revenue going to the county for hotel stays won't be known immediately, Nassau's Belyea said, adding money goes into tourism, parks and museums. 

“A bump in [hotel taxes] certainly helps us benefit our budget and allows us to do more programming,” she said. 

Ali Zar, owner of East Meadow-based Zar Sports USA, said...

Ali Zar, owner of East Meadow-based Zar Sports USA, said he ordered about 700 jerseys for the Indian and Pakistani teams ahead of the World Cup. Credit: Newsday/Kendall Rodriguez

'Good time for everybody'

East Meadow Chamber of Commerce president Anthony Bott hopes the tournament “brings a lot of business” to the hamlet.

“I believe the restaurants are going to be packed. It should be a good time for everybody,” he said.

Eateries like the Shah’s Halal franchise in the East Meadow Plaza shopping center stand ready for cricketmania. 

Rahmat Tokhi, manager and part-owner of the East Meadow franchise, said he is adding seating and temporarily boosting staff to accommodate customers. 

“It’s going to be crazy,” Tokhi said.

His home country, Afghanistan, wasn’t part of the Commonwealth, where the sport took root and spread to Asian and African countries under the British Empire. But the game has caught on in Afghanistan, he said.

Ali Zar, owner of East Meadow-based Zar Sports USA, is selling jerseys through his online cricket gear store. He said he ordered about 700 jerseys for the Indian and Pakistani teams ahead of the World Cup. About 100 of those bear the names of star players, including Pakistan's Babar Azam and India's Virat Kohli. He's also selling cricket merchandise at his Bethpage gift shop Cardsmart. 

“The Babar Azam, Virat Kohli, they’re going to fly out first,” said Zar, a Pakistani American who's played cricket all his life.

Rubal Sikka, co-owner of Mint restaurant in Garden City and Pearl...

Rubal Sikka, co-owner of Mint restaurant in Garden City and Pearl banquet hall in Hicksville, is hosting viewing parties at their venues on June 9. Credit: Newsday/Kendall Rodriguez

As the World Cup gets ready to kick off, some businesses and entities across Long Island are hosting viewing parties where fans can watch the matches with fellow sport enthusiasts. 

The father and son team of Gary and Rubal Sikka, who owns Mint, an Indian and Asian-fusion restaurant in Garden City, and Pearl banquet hall in Hicksville, are hosting viewing parties at their venues on 115-inch screens on June 9.

“Right now, we are focusing on India and Pakistan because that is more in demand,” Gary Sikka said. “Nobody is getting the tickets. So many people were approaching us … so we opened this up to the public.”

He said they've taken reservations for about 60% of the spots at both the 190-seat restaurant where they are charging $60 and at the 314-seat banquet hall for $100.

That cost covers breakfast, lunch, wine and beer.

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