Covers off cricket's vision for Hagley Oval

GEOFF LONGLEY
Last updated 08:57 20/06/2012

The covers have been lifted on Canterbury Cricket's vision for Hagley Oval that it claims will enhance the park, not detract from it.

Chief executive Lee Germon has released to The Press an aerial image of the ground that was shown to Christchurch City councillors at a workshop last week.

Canterbury Cricket wants the council to put the upgraded Oval development on its long-term plan.

However, any changes to the ground's footprint are subject to resource consent, and opposition is already evident to what some see as sacrilege by building a new pavilion, installing floodlights and constructing a raised embankment.

Canterbury's earthquakes rendered the old AMI Stadium and Queen Elizabeth II Park's Village Green unusable, and while Germon acknowledged concerns about how Hagley Oval would look, he hopes releasing the image will allay them.

"We want to keep Hagley Oval green. That is why there is a grass bank and no other structures other than the replacement of the existing pavilion," he said.

The new pavilion, which will replace the existing Old Boys-Old Collegians one, is larger than its predecessor, extending 60 metres, but Germon said it would be no higher than existing structures and would be recessed into the embankment, with player and umpire facilities and toilets, plus storage areas on the lower level.

It is estimated the overall project cost will be $20 million, most of which will be met by Canterbury Cricket and which includes about $10m for the pavilion and $3m to $5m for the retractable floodlights.

Germon said the cost for the pavilion had doubled after the earthquakes, given the more stringent building codes and insurance issues.

"But this expense is an investment for future generations for we envisage the ground being home to the game for the next 100 years,'' he said.

The floodlights when retracted are expected to stand about 24 metres high, which Germon said was about the same height as floodlights already used in Hagley Park for winter sports training.

The council is expected to contribute only to the development of the playing surface to international level and to help create the embankment, which will rise between 2.2m and 3.6m around the ground.

Germon said the ground would seat 20,000 at capacity, with 4000 temporary seats, while the pavilion could house 600.

It is expected to charge for entry to matches, and to have an accompanying temporary fence, for about 10 days a year.

Germon said the city fringe location of Hagley Oval should mean that parking was accessible, with possible parking also at the nearby polo grounds and Hagley Community College.

"It has always been a home of cricket in Canterbury [since 1866] and is on stable land. It can showcase the resilience of Christchurch and its recovery with fixtures such as matches at the 2015 Cricket World Cup,"  he said.

New Zealand Cricket has guaranteed the ground will get regular international fixtures. The last test match played in Christchurch was six years ago.

"We are not wanting to create a concrete jungle with gaudy signs. We want grassy banks where people can spread out have a picnic lunch and spend an enjoyable day watching top-level cricket," Germon said.

- The Press

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