Orange tourism has received a major boost with the announcement that the reigning premiers of Big Bash League (BBL) cricket, Sydney Thunder, will play two games against Hong Kong at Wade Park on December 11.
A crowd of 5000 people is expected at the ground to watch the back-to-back Twenty20 clashes that will start in the early afternoon and end around 7.30pm.
Thunder players will also run clinics for local junior cricketers in Orange the day before the games.
The BBL T20 format proved hugely popular with fans at the grounds and on TV last season: the Thunder achieved TV ratings of 1.79 million viewers in its final clash with the Melbourne Stars.
Orange City Council Deputy Mayor Jason Hamling said it was expected the event would provide a $350,000-$400,000 boost to the local economy, with about 25 per cent of the crowd coming from outside the city.
“We would expect a large number of people from outside the region to come. With the games on a Sunday we are hoping people arrive on the Saturday and make a weekend of it,” Cr Hamling said.
The flow-on revenue in accommodation, winery visits and dining would hopefully mirror the success of the National Rugby League trial game at Wade Park in February.
Cricket-wise it will be one of the biggest games we have had for a long, long time,” Cr Hamling said.
“The Thunder have told us they are bringing their full squad out here and they are taking it very seriously.”
He said council was keen to attract more top sporting teams to play in Orange.
“It’s about providing the local community with the opportunity to see first-tier sport in their own backyard.”
Sydney Thunder general manager Nick Cummins said there would be a strong family focus on the day.
“We want to have it at a family-friendly time so families can come,” he said.
“We are really excited about it. We think it is going to be a huge success.”
Mr Cummins said the Hong Kong team was likely to arrive in Orange on the Friday before the game with the Thunder arriving on Saturday.
“We are going to do some local clinics with the juniors.”
He said the Thunder hoped to inspire children to play cricket.
It is the first time the Thunder has played a practice game in country NSW but he hoped it would become a regular event.
“Although the name is Sydney Thunder we actually represent half of NSW,” Mr Cummins said.