Oval plans make good use of Hagley Park

GEOFF LONGLEY
Last updated 05:00 20/06/2012

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OPINION: Canterbury Cricket's ambitious plans for Hagley Oval do not amount to a threatening takeover of the ground.

The general public can now judge for themselves how "invasive" cricket's plans are with the release of an image of the Oval of the future.

Yes, it has come from Canterbury Cricket and will be sympathetic to the cause championing Hagley Oval as their headquarters, but is it really a blot on the landscape?

It will only be like this on a handful of days a year – no different to the Ellerslie flower show – but the legacy of a base for cricket in Canterbury will be a lasting one.

No more juggling around among Lancaster Park, QEII's Village Green and Rangiora's Mainpower Oval, a showpiece for the sport it can actually call home.

What could be better on a sunlit summer's day than reclining on the verdant expanse watching New Zealand or Canterbury's best do battle.

The prevailing northeasterly wind is tempered by the copious number of existing trees, none of which will be affected, and the raised bank hardly appears to constitute a visual eyesore.

The light towers will arouse debate, no doubt, and are probably the most contentious aspect of the plan alongside the extended pavilion.

But if the sport in Canterbury is to keep pace with its counterparts around New Zealand who are already well ahead in terms of development, a line needs to be drawn.

For too many years (well over a decade) Canterbury cricket has umm-ed and ahh-ed, exploring this option and that, to the extent that one long-suffering cricket supporter said any ground when it was finalised should be named "Coronation St" because of the ongoing saga.

The not-for-profit organisation is not looking to commercialise the Oval and the land remains in council ownership.

Having an amphitheatre could enhance the ground for other uses, such as concerts and more community use, with football fields still intended to remain there in winter.

And that is perhaps at the crux of the issue – using Hagley Park. As many have noted it is a jewel in the crown of Christchurch, but jewels are meant to be shown off, not stuck away in a dusty drawer.

Many have good intent to protect every blade of grass on the ground, but how regularly do they tread their hallowed turf?

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