By Jon Culley, ECB Reporters Network
Leicestershire are giving away up to 4,000 complimentary tickets for this week’s match against Sussex in the LV= Insurance County Championship fixture as part of a new initiative to grow crowds at the Uptonsteel County Ground and spread the appeal of the game.
The #SupportYourCounty project is taking place in partnership with the Cricket Supporters’ Association (CSA) and the magazine County Cricket Matters, with 1,000 tickets given away for each of the scheduled four days, beginning on Thursday.
Leicestershire County Cricket Club CEO Sean Jarvis explained how the idea came about.
“It came out of discussions with the Cricket Supporters’ Association and the publication County Cricket Matters,” he said.
“We did an open day last year around one of our Royal London Cup days just after the Covid restrictions had been lifted and had about 4,000 people turn up.
“We thought, why don’t we try something different, why don’t we try giving away 1,000 tickets a day for the Sussex game, and why don’t we give them out to audiences who don’t ordinarily come to cricket.
“With the Cricket Supporters’ Association we did a market research project about a year or so ago that identified one or two little areas we could look at (for potential new interest).
“We’re also giving some tickets to our business partners here at Leicestershire and encouraging them to circulate them to people in their networks.
“So over the last couple of weeks we’ve distributed them to a real eclectic mix of individuals from business partners to the Leicester City Cricket Development Organisation that runs inner-city cricket - a wide variety of different people to come and have a taste of cricket.”
The success of the venture will ultimately be measured by the numbers who come through the gates for the visit of Sussex, although Jarvis says that reaction on social media has been overwhelmingly positive.
“When we put something on social media about it, the reaction took us a bit by surprise,” he said. “Everybody was really positive about the initiative and how we are trying to get people into the ground to watch cricket.
“That was the really encouraging thing, because social media is a great way to spread the word very quickly.”
Both the CSA and County Cricket Matters have been delighted to give the initiative their endorsement.
Cricket Supporters’ Association CEO Becky Fairlie-Clarke said: “This is yet another great initiative from Leicestershire CCC that we are proud to be partnering with them on.
“Making the county game accessible and opening up red-ball cricket to new and existing audiences of all ages and from all communities is super important to the future of cricket at all levels and central to the ethos of the CSA. We are incredibly excited to be involved and to support in every way we can.”
Jarvis added that the #SupportYourCounty initiative has twin goals, to boost the crowd numbers at Leicestershire’s home fixtures, and to introduce new audiences to a game they might play themselves.
“We want to increase our membership, to get people down here to watch their county, their team,” he said.
“And in that regard we will be looking to encourage the people who come to return again for future matches and maybe consider the benefits of taking out membership and starting that journey to becoming a die-hard Leicestershire fan.
“But we also want people to see cricket and think that maybe they can play the game too, which is really important as well.
“There have been encouraging signs recently that we are seeing interest in the game here growing. Our ticket sales are about 150 per cent up on last year, and our membership has gone from around 1,000 to about 1,500 with a lot of young kids in there.
“But we can’t let up, we just have to keep promoting, keep driving initiatives, keep pushing various things.
“I say to people that there is no silver bullet to the answer of how to get people to come down and watch county cricket.
“But if you have a machine gun of silver bullets in the form of many layers of initiatives, then hopefully you attract more and more people into the game.”
Leicestershire's 2022 #CountyTogether Memberships are on sale. Click here to view membership options.