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Dardenne Prairie extends agreement allowing cricket at Barathaven Park

Dardenne Prairie agreed to extend an agreement allowing a sports group to play cricket at a city park into 2017.

Mayor David Zucker said that the city allowed the extension because bad weather delayed construction of a cricket “pitch” at Barathaven Park. The city reached an agreement in June with the American Cricket Academy and Club of St. Louis.

The city’s Board of Aldermen voted Oct. 19 to move the agreement into next year. Some matches have been played this year, but not a full schedule. Those matches have drawn big crowds.

“I’m told the parking lot is full, there are lots of people and they bring a buffet spread, so it’s really a family get-together with lots of kids,” Zucker said. One parent told aldermen that it was “wonderful” to see their children getting to play under the lights at the field.

The academy, which includes parents who are city residents, approached the city in February to secure a place to play. The nonprofit group, which  instructs children in the sport, was formed in 2015 for boys and girls, ages 8 to 14, and has grown to 150 children, largely by word-of-mouth.

In May, more than 150 cricket supporters crowded the aldermanic chambers at city hall and applauded after the city’s board voted 4-1 in favor of an agreement with the American Cricket Academy and Club of St. Louis. The academy agreed to pay for a cricket field to be installed in an area between two practice soccer fields in the 80-acre park.

The academy will reimburse the city $26,887.35 for building the concrete pitch. In exchange, the city will reserve the playing area for eight hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays from March 1 to about the end of November, but the pitch was not available for much of the summer. The city also will waive the standard field reservation fee for three years. A discounted reservation fee will be collected in the fourth and fifth years of the agreement.

City officials warned that the academy could lose its investment if parking lots at the adjacent former Lindenwood University Nursing and Allied Health Center cannot be used. Lindenwood is selling the center, which was the former site of Baret Academy.

Zucker said the city has no assurance that anyone buying the Lindenwood property would allow the present parking lots to be used by the public for park activities. If parking isn’t allowed, the city could consider using an easement to build a driveway and an 80-vehicle parking lot.

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