Gerry Brownlee, the Earthquake Recovery Minister, has thrown his support behind Canterbury Cricket's proposal to turn Hagley Oval in Christchurch into a ground capable of staging international cricket matches.
With the Cricket World Cup taking place in both New Zealand and Australia in 2015 and officials to decide the schedule in November next year, time is ticking for the city to develop a venue that is compliant with the International Cricket Council's requirements.
Canterbury Cricket CEO Lee Germon said yesterday the Christchurch City Council had signed off on plans to prepare a cricket block and the outfield to an international standard in the coming weeks.
Further plans to construct a grass embankment around the ground and a players' pavilion, however, would need to go through a consultation process before being rubberstamped.
''What the Council is going to do in the next four to five weeks is start preparing the cricket block and the cricket outfield and preparing it to an international quality standard,'' Germon said.
''That can be done without any consent process because it's already a cricket ground.
''The next stage, which involves building the embankment and the players' pavilion, will need to go through a consultation process to allow that to happen.'' With the Christchurch earthquakes costing the city any chance of hosting Rugby World Cup matches last year, Germon is desperate not to miss the boat by the time the Cricket World Cup rolls around.
It's a sentiment shared by the Earthquake Recovery Minister, Brownlee, who said the redevelopment of Hagley Oval had his support. ''Our target down here is to have some games during the 2015 Cricket World Cup,'' he said.
''We missed out on the Rugby World Cup down here and while the Cricket World Cup is not quite as big, the prospect of getting several one-day games over a relatively short period of time in the city is pretty encouraging.
''A venue like that would work well for that as well as being a really outstanding test cricket venue.
''I can't confirm that (it's been signed off). What I will say is that I've been encouraging it. I think it's great.
''We are very lucky to have Hagley Park right in the centre of the city. The oval there has been used for cricket for 100-plus years.
''It would be a magnificent venue, there's no question about that.''
New Zealand Cricket, which is based in Christchurch, is also behind the proposal and CEO David White said it was ''critical to cricket's future'' that a venue capable of staging internationals was built in the city.
''We're totally supportive of it,'' he said.
''What's really important from New Zealand Cricket's point of view is that we have an international venue in Christchurch.
''Christchurch and Canterbury play a huge part in New Zealand sport and I'm not just talking about cricket.''
Germon said Canterbury Cricket intended to base itself at Hagley Oval and play its first-class matches there.
The redevelopment means two of the city's longest-serving clubs, St Albans and Riccarton, will be forced to relocate.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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