Shabby Basin ground 'needs radical makeover'

Test matches at risk

ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 05:00 09/10/2014
Basin Reserve

NEEDS A SPRUCE-UP: The Basin Reserve needs extensive renovations, according to Cricket Wellington, or risk losing out on big test matches.

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It may be one of the city's favourite sports venues, but cricket bosses say the run-down ground needs a multimillion-dollar, ratepayer-funded makeover.

Fears that the Basin may lose test match cricket have prompted some radical proposals, including the demolition of the earthquake-prone Museum Stand, the installation of floodlights, the provision of lounge viewing for VIPs, and even the replacement of the familiar brown timber fence with something more inviting.

Auckland's Eden Park and Christchurch's newly renovated Hagley Park Oval were serious competition for the Basin, despite its strong reputation and historical significance, Cricket Wellington chief executive Peter Clinton said.

"If the Basin falls too far behind some of these venues, then the choice New Zealand Cricket has is to put these games at these more modern facilities.

"It's probably the best-supported ground in the country, but that only gets you so far these days."

A 20-year master plan outlining the Basin Reserve Trust's plans for renewal would be made public before Christmas, Clinton said.

Ratepayers would foot the lion's share of costs, and the trust would help with whatever funds it could, Clinton said.

The revamp could cost $10 million over a decade, said Wellington city councillor Paul Eagle, who chaired the Community, Sport and Recreation Committee.

He blamed the Basin's former manager, Westpac Stadium, for allowing it to fall into disrepair.

"It's essentially been forgotten about, and now we're going to have to dig deep. If we do not invest, then we will risk losing games."

Creating a money-spinning venue was not the plan - rather, both parties planned to honour the trust deed's vision for the Basin as a premier test venue and a community asset, Eagle said.

"I don't see this as a big money winner. This is not about turning it into a multimillion-dollar revenue stream for the council."

Clinton said options for the master plan were still being discussed, but replacing the tired wooden boundary fence with wrought iron or a transparent material would help integrate the Basin with its surroundings and the new Memorial Park nearby.

Heritage New Zealand wanted the 1926 Museum Stand preserved, but removing it would be one option presented to council, he said.

Floodlights, better media facilities and a VIP lounge were all on the wishlist, but cost was a constant consideration.

"It's a question of priority: VIP lounges before public toilets? You're never satisfied with what you've got, but at the same time we have to be sensible."

The Basin lost its $100,000 naming contract with Hawkins in April, and posted a $182,000 loss last financial year as a result of bad debt and a $90,000 flyover-related legal bill.

While the trust was seeking another naming sponsor, it would recalculate the value of naming rights as part of the master plan, Clinton said.

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- The Dominion Post

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