John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Oval needs lights to entice best: Chief

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Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill steal a single at the sold-out T20 match against Sri Lanka held at Bay Oval in January. Photo/File
Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill steal a single at the sold-out T20 match against Sri Lanka held at Bay Oval in January. Photo/File

More top-tier international cricket matches featuring Tauranga's home-town heroes Kane Williamson and Trent Boult would be played at Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval if it got lights.

Bay of Plenty Cricket Association officials yesterday put forward the case for the Tauranga City Council to stump up $1.3 million of the $2.7 million cost to install lighting towers.

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"The community wants to be able to see their heroes, including Kane and Trent, playing in our backyard," chairman Richard Dey said.

Quizzed whether having lights would be enough to attract more international teams to play at Bay Oval, he said New Zealand Cricket had indicated that if the oval got lights, it would be much more likely to get higher tier international matches.

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The association's application for a $1.3 million grant was put to the council during the hearing of submissions on the 2016-17 Annual Plan.

Mr Dey said Kane Williamson and Trent Boult were local boys who went to local colleges and were proud to call the Bay of Plenty home.

"They are probably Tauranga's highest profile celebrities, with the possible exception of a certain drummer. However, they hardly ever get the chance to play cricket in Tauranga any more and barely get to represent Northern Districts."

The community wants to be able to see their heroes, including Kane and Trent, playing in our backyard.
Richard Dey

He said Cricket Bay of Plenty was punching above its weight in delivering international events on a local stage.

"However, there is a clear risk that we will not continue to be allocated games if we are unable to hold them under lights."

The association, on behalf of more than 9000 cricketers and their families, strongly supported the council contributing towards the continued development of Bay Oval, Mr Dey said.

The business case for the lights was currently being prepared by the association with assistance from council staff, he said. Bay Oval was on council-owned Blake Park.

Bay Cricket director Mark Boyle said the quality of Bay Oval was proven by the sell-out crowds at the two internationals played by the Black Caps last summer. Installing lights would attract more international games and deliver positive social and economic benefits for the city.

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Bay Oval Trust chairman Chris Rapson said players loved coming to Tauranga and he could not think of anything else that had given the area more international exposure than the cricket matches against Sri Lanka and South Africa.

They shut the gates for the one-dayer against Sri Lanka when the crowd exceeded 10,000 - on the basis of one person per two square metres of embankment. With a bit of extra seating it would not be hard to get 15,000 people into Bay Oval, he said.

The council will consider the funding request when it makes decisions on Annual Plan submissions on May 24-26.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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