Major changes at the
University Oval could bring ''top tier'' cricket tests and
day-night one-day internationals to Dunedin.
Otago Cricket Association chief executive Ross Dykes outlined
a plan at yesterday's Dunedin City Council annual plan
hearings to install lighting, costing about $2 million, and
increase the ground's capacity by 2000.
The plan, supported by New Zealand Cricket, would give the
ground a normal capacity of 5500, which could be lifted to
about 8000 with the addition of temporary seating, Mr Dykes
The extra capacity - gained by extending the ground's
embankment - would mean more tests at the ground against the
likes of Australia and India.''
New Zealand Cricket have said if you can increase the
capacity you will get an Australian test match [when they
tour in 2016],'' he said.
Having lights would allow day-night games at the ground,
which was important because they provided a ''better fit''
for Asian viewers, who represented cricket's largest
Increasing the size of the embankment would require removing
poplar trees, closing parts of Logan Park Dr and encroaching
on parts of Logan Park field.
Mr Dykes understood the trees were to be felled anyway.
Otago Cricket hoped work could begin as early as April next
year, and wanted the council's ''in principle'' support as
soon as possible.
This would allow Otago Cricket to ''guarantee future games''
with New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and signal changes to the
cricketing world during next year's Cricket World Cup, with
three games being hosted at the ground.
''It's a major event which is going to broadcast worldwide
and it's an ideal opportunity ... to spread the gospel.''
Otago Cricket Association chief executive Ross Dykes is
seeking support from the Dunedin City Council to extend the
embankment at University Oval. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
It would also ''future-proof'' the ground and ensure it
remained the top cricket ground in the South Island. This
status was under threat from Christchurch, with work to get
Hagley Park up to international standard due to be completed
next cricket season.
''They will be the preferred South Island option if we [do
not stay] ahead of them.
''I just don't like the idea of Christchurch getting ahead of
Cr Richard Thomson asked what kind of support Otago Cricket
needed from the council, seeing as it was not asking for
Mr Dykes said the extension would require the council to
approve the poplar trees being cut down and for part of Logan
Park Dr to be closed.
''It really is clearing the way, via permission if you like,
and saying `Yes, if you guys get the lights up, we can help
you increasing the capacity'.''
In response to a question from Cr Aaron Hawkins, Mr Dykes
said improvements would also be good for the domestic game,
with a lack of lights preventing this season's twenty20 final
from being held in Dunedin.
Mr Dykes tabled letters of support from Sport Otago and NZC
and a ''bird's eye'' plan of the changes to the ground,
showing the extent of the enlarged banking and location of
four light towers.
In NZC's letter, chief operating officer Craig Presland spoke
of the importance of having lighting.
Its broadcasting agreement stipulated all one-day
internationals be played at night, and day games would
''almost certainly not be an option in the future''.
The possibility of day/night test matches meant lights would
also ''future-proof'' the ground as a test venue.