A $900,000 upgrade of Napier's McLean Park will be made in an attempt to avoid future transfers of international cricket fixtures.
New Zealand Cricket Chief Operating Officer Anthony Crummy commended the Napier City Council on committing to the upgrade in the wake of the transfer of the March 1 fourth ANZ One Day International between the Black Caps and South Africa to Hamilton's Seddon Park.
The transfer follows an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the February 2 abandonment of the Black Caps ODI against Australia at McLean Park which highlighted a need for urgent remedial work on the venue's turf, drainage and irrigation system.
Crummy said planning would start immediately on installing a complete replacement of the playing surface, drainage and irrigation system on top of an existing commitment to build drop-in pitches, improve the lighting and build practice facilities on the site.
New Zealand Cricket and Napier City Council agreed it was in the best interests of McLean Park's cricketing future to move the upcoming ODI, and avoid what has been described as "an unacceptable risk" of a repeat drainage failure.
Fans who had already purchased tickets to the ODI against South Africa at McLean Park will receive full refunds.
Crummy said the findings of the investigation left few options open but the one agreed.
"There have been shortcomings identified in McLean Park's drainage and irrigation system which need to be remedied before we can be confident of avoiding what happened in the Chappell-Hadlee fixture," he said.
"The investigation concludes that drought conditions in the Hawke's Bay necessitated significant levels of watering in the days leading up to the match which, combined with a limited drainage infrastructure and rain on match-day, resulted in a worst-case scenario.
"It's true, several measures could be employed to help mitigate this risk ahead of the South Africa match but, even then, any period of significant or extended rain in the lead-up would likely result in the same outcome.
Crummy pointed out a complete review of the McLean Park outfield was undertaken after the abandonment of the West Indies ODI in 2013, and as part of preparations for the 2015 ICC World Cup resulting in an upgrade of the drainage in the area in front of the Harris Stand.
The latest review completed by Sports Surface Design and Management (SSDM) revealed deterioration to the drainage that could only be addressed by installing a full replacement system.
"This has been a difficult time for those involved with staging cricket at McLean Park and, not least, the cricket-loving public within the Hawke's Bay. However, both NZC and the NCC believe the best way to future-proof the region's ability to host international cricket is to transfer the scheduled fourth ANZ ODI against South Africa. By doing this, we can look forward with confidence to McLean Park hosting next summer's ODIs between the Black Caps and England, and the Black Caps and Pakistan," Crummy explained.
He said NZC had taken on board criticism of in-venue communications during the abandoned match, and was refining more detailed messaging on the state of play to ensure information was conveyed in a clear, timely and concise manner.
Napier mayor, Bill Dalton, said the decision was not an easy one to make and he's "bitterly disappointed on behalf of the fans, the players and the council'.
"In essence, we have a fantastic ground in a superb location but the turf is old and has deteriorated dramatically in the face of the recent drought conditions in the Hawke's Bay.
"There are issues with the organic matter beneath the surface of the ground, issues we didn't know about and are now urgently dealing with."
Central Districts chief executive Pete De Wet said he was extremely disappointed for the CD cricket community and, particularly, those in the Hawke's Bay but said the decision to transfer the South Africa ODI was the only responsible course of action.
"Make no mistake, this decision hasn't been arrived at lightly and comes as a real blow for all involved," he said.
"Having said that, I think we have to feel encouraged by the determination of the NCC to invest in McLean Park and create a top-class international cricket venue."