City councillors have agreed to loan cricket bosses $140,000 to help pay for a must-have upgrade to Hamilton's Seddon Park.
The loan was agreed to after a closed-door meeting between the council and Northern Districts Cricket Association (NDCA) chief executive Peter Roach.
The council won the right to host three one-day matches at Seddon Park as part of next year's Cricket World Cup on the condition that the park's player and match officials facilities were upgraded.
The upgrade to the off-field facilities will cost $727,400 and start this month.
Council events and economic development general manager Sean Murray said the council's $140,000 loan ensured the park upgrade could go ahead and Northern Districts' $317,000 contribution could be received.
Three years ago the council agreed to help partly fund an upgrade of Seddon Park and settled on a $270,000 contribution, with Northern Districts to fund the balance.
Since then, however, the scope of the upgrade project had increased, meaning Northern Districts had to find additional funds, Murray said.
Murray would not reveal the terms of the loan but said it would be repaid in full, plus interest, and in a "relatively short timeframe".
The council owns Seddon Park, and Northern Districts is the long-term tenant.
Roach said the council loan was "fantastic news" and would ensure that Seddon Park remained a world class cricket venue.
Roach said the standard of cricket facilities around the world had improved dramatically in recent times, driven largely by India.
"India's stadiums have gone from a very low level to a very high level and they're setting the benchmark to what's expected around the world. Seddon Park has to raise to meet the expectations of international teams."
In an earlier letter to the city council, New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said the upgrade to Seddon Park was integral to international cricket coming to Hamilton.
Roach said the Cricket World Cup was one of the biggest events in the world and guaranteed Hamilton huge exposure.
"There will not be an event televised out of Hamilton that will have more eyes of the world watching it than when India play here in the Cricket World Cup.
"What value do you put on that?"
Hamilton Deputy Mayor Gordon Chesterman said the agreed $140,000 loan was a good outcome for the city and ensured the council's asset would be upgraded. He said councils across New Zealand were being asked to pay for improvements to sporting facilities and more thought should be given to asking sports fans to pay for some of the cost.
"At some point in the future professional sports should apply a user pay principle and add a surcharge to their ticket prices. So if your sport is horse racing, don't expect me to spend my boxing money on paying for your sport interest."
The Seddon Park upgrade is timed to be finished in September.
Murray said the council expected a "very good" allocation of international matches for Seddon Park for the 2014-15 season. "We're confident of a very busy summer of international cricket at our facility, possibly outstripping last summer's very successful season."
- Larger changing rooms
- Refurbished toilet and shower area
- Expanded and refurbished officials' change room and toilet area
- Upgraded indoor cricket/sporting facility
- Waikato Times
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