Cricket chiefs pledged to push the boundaries of the Hong Kong Sixes yesterday after being handed a HK$3.5 million windfall from the government's Mega Events Fund.
Three months after the government signed a HK$8 million cheque to woo some of the world's best golfers to the Hong Kong Open in December, it gave the showpiece Sixes in October a shot in the arm.
'The funding provides a great opportunity for us to push the boundaries of the event even further and we have some exciting new ideas that will add significantly to the enjoyment of spectators and the millions more watching around the world,' Hong Kong Cricket Association chairman Dinesh Tandon said
'The funding is recognition that the Sixes, as the only international cricket event in Hong Kong and with the full sanction of the International Cricket Council, is a significant international event on the calendar with a high potential to help promote the city to international audiences.'
In line with the objectives of the Mega Events Fund (MEF) to promote Hong Kong as an events capital of Asia, the HKCA will expand the competition format from its traditional two days to a third day at the Kowloon Cricket Club. The dates in October have not been confirmed.
The tournament, which is sponsored by KARP Group Jewellery, also will be expanded from eight to 12 teams. Three of the four new teams will be national sides, while the fourth comprising legends, modelling the success of the All-Star format at the Sixes in 2007 which guaranteed a sellout.
With a fourth day planned for extended promotional activities and exhibition games, the MEF assessment committee expects the Sixes to attract 14,000 participants, meeting its 10,000-strong criteria.
HKCA president Shahzada Saleem said the body was 'thrilled' with the support, but appealed for the continuation of the MEF initiative which is set to expire in March next year. 'The support from the Mega Events Fund is vital for associations like the HKCA to continue to raise the profile of our activities, not just locally but on the global stage. MEF support will help us develop our events to attract greater sponsorship and become self-sustainable,' Saleem said.
'The HKCA has a long-term vision for the Sixes and for cricket in Hong Kong and with the support of the Mega Events Fund, the Tourism Commission and our stable of long-term sponsors we are confident of achieving this vision.'
The tourism-boosting fund was set up in May 2009 to allocate HK$100 million over three years to help not-for-profit organisations stage 'mega arts, cultural and sports events'. In June, the SCMP reported HK$50 million was still lying in the coffers.