John Key kick-starts Hagley Oval redevelopment
It's been a polarising development, but Prime Minister John Key will officially start the upgrade of Hagley Oval today.
Key will turn the first sod on the new Hadlee Pavilion to the east of the cricket wicket today, according to Canterbury Cricket, who have driven the ground development.
The new pavilion, named after arguably Canterbury's most famous sporting family, is expected to be finished by September next year.
A grass embankment will also be built up around the cricket pitch before the ground hosts three matches in the 2015 cricket World Cup, including the first match and the opening ceremony.
The old High School Old Boys Cricket Club pavilion is expected to come down soon and the foundation for the new pavilion could be laid before Christmas.
Since a redevelopment of Hagley Oval, which first hosted a first-class cricket match in 1867, was first mooted even before the Christchurch earthquakes, it has caused controversy.
Originally QEII's Village Green was seen as an option, but that was too small for redevelopment and Canterbury Cricket had their sights set on Hagley and its central location.
The earthquakes took the severely damaged QEII out of the reckoning and while all Canterbury Cricket's eggs went into the Hagley Oval basket, opposition became more vocal.
Led by Martin Meehan, the Save Hagley Park group fought Canterbury Cricket and the proposed development every step of the way. The council passed a decision on to the Environment Court and its decision was for the development to go ahead, with a series of conditions.
The pitch and outfield has already been developed and currently hosts domestic and club cricket.
It will host games next month in the World Cup qualifying tournament and could be in line for a game early next summer before the World Cup kicks off on February 14, 2015.