International first class cricket matches will be coming to Napier, after the development of McLean Park as a multi-use facility was approved at a Napier City Council meeting yesterday.
The city services committee moved that council would commit to the development and also use the existing sportsgrounds development budget in the next three financial years for upgrades to the park. These include the construction of drop-in cricket wicket facilities, upgraded LED sports field, lighting and the construction of a fit-for-purpose cricket practice facility.
The indicative costs were $914,000, or $1.64 million, including two further drop-in wickets in the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 financial years which were not part of the current programme of works.
The upgrades were integral in securing first class cricket matches - with three games in two months at the start of next year, between the Black Caps and Bangladesh, Australia and South Africa, and two the following summer on dates to be set, against Pakistan and England. All are limited-overs one-day internationals or Twenty20 matches.
Councillor Mark Herbert, who was chairman, said council now needed to make sure they got the public to support the games.
He said if they "pack out the park we're certainly going to get more games ... if we're going to half fill the grounds we won't get more games, it's as simple as that".
Construction of the drop-in cricket pitches was scheduled for later this year. A suitable nursery would be identified which could accommodate up to five drop-in wickets so eventually the current infield wicket could be replaced by drop-in wickets. Each would cost approximately $75,000, with construction of additional wickets spread over multiple financial years.
The balance of funding from this financial year will be carried over to the next so either the lighting upgrade or practice facilities construction could be brought forward, if appropriate, without exhausting the annual funding allocation.