Revision of Hagley Oval cricket plan requested

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 11/07/2012
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Controversial plans to modify Hagley Oval have been sent back to Canterbury Cricket for revision a handful of weeks before an important deadline must be met if Christchurch is to host Cricket World Cup games.

The chairman of the tournament's organising committee, James Strong, visited Christchurch to inspect plans for the Oval this month.

Canterbury Cricket boss Lee Germon said Strong needed to know by the end of August if "Christchurch is going to be a serious contender to host matches".

Serious doubt has been cast on that after Germon revealed yesterday that Christchurch City Council wants changes to the plan, as published in The Press on June 20.

Germon had not been told what needed modifying, but expected the complaint to be around the perceived "invasiveness" of the proposal, he said.

In an ominous development, he has been asked to attend a sit-down meeting with the Save Hagley Park organisation and council in a bid to reach a compromise over the plans. The two camps appear implacably opposed.

Save Hagley Park remain vehemently against any modification to Hagley while Germon indicated he did not want to give any ground.

He didn't feel cuts should be made to what he said was already a "very minimalist plan".

"I actually haven't got a really clear understanding of [spokesman] Martin Meehan's group's non-negotiable position, I don't know what that is," Germon said.

"In actual fact, I'm wondering what they want to save Hagley from."

Cricket World Cup 2015 organisers told The Press that Christchurch could host tier one matches at the joint Australia-New Zealand tournament, provided a suitable venue was ready.

Therese Walsh, the New Zealand boss of the tournament, said though no decisions had been made on which venues would host matches, Christchurch would feature "significantly" if it had a venueto replace its previous ICC-approved ground at AMI Stadium. which was severely damaged in the February 2011 earthquake.

"Christchurch is important to us," she said. "With what's happened, we're obviously going to be sympathetic. It's too early to make any assumptions, but if there is a suitable venue in Christchurch, given the city's importance geographically, and it submits a suitable application, then it is likely to be involved."

An announcement is expected in February next year as to which venues will host games and the calibre of those matches, Walsh said.

Germon had lofty goals for the city's involvement.

"Our thoughts are we would love to have the first Black Caps' game scheduled here [and] we would like to be in the running for a quarterfinal, for example."

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Germon said he had the support of the World Cup Organising Committee.

"They haven't come out and said, `You'll definitely get a Black Caps game', but the chairman and members of the World Cup Organising Committee have said, `We want Christchurch to have a meaningful role in the World Cup'," he said.

Germon said applying for the semifinals and the final could be out of the region's reach, but Canterbury Cricket wanted to be considered for everything else.

- The Press

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