Bay Oval has had a massive season, ticking off a major goal of hosting its first test cricket match - but next season could be their biggest yet.
Bay Oval hosted the Black Caps and England for the venue's first test match from November 21 to 25. Since then it has also hosted a Twenty20 match between New Zealand and India on February 2, a One Day International on Tuesday as well as New Zealand's national women's side, the White Ferns, in a T20 match against South Africa, also on February 2. This is on top of club and representative matches all at the venue this summer.
Bay Oval Trust general manager Kelvin Jones said this season has been a massive one, showcasing the grounds, Tauranga and Mount Maunganui to not only world-class players and international fans, but the world as well through televised coverage.
"We got comments from people all over the world. There's lots and lots of people looking [at televised drone footage] and probably asking where's this great place," Jones says.
"We had the largest crowd for a test match in 30 years," he says of the estimated 25,000 people who attended the November clash over the five days.
"We're really happy with the way it's gone," he says.
Tourism Bay of Plenty's head of destination marketing Kath Low says the recent Bay Oval-hosted international cricket matches provided a massive opportunity to showcase the region to the world.
"The matches are broadcast to a massive global audience and the drone footage which captures the coastline, Mount Maunganui and, at times, cruise ships must make a positive impression to those who are watching from abroad," Low says.
"Aside from welcoming two of the world's great cricket teams to our city, we also enjoyed welcoming their fans and supporters. The Indian team have a lot – and they were fantastic and enthusiastic supporters at all of the games," she says.
Next year, Bay Oval will host six 2021 ICC Women's Cricket World Cup matches, including a semifinal. Jones says they will also be keeping an eye out for more opportunities to host more Black Caps matches next season.
"We're looking forward to our biggest season ever next summer," Jones says.
"We know we'll be in hot demand."
Jones says hosting big names in cricket benefits the whole Bay of Plenty, through tourism, with many bars and retailers reporting busy days while the cricket was on, also for the sport itself.
He says young cricketers getting to see their heroes at home raises the profile of cricket, saying there were many children at the games getting excited about cricket.
Among those young fans was Tauranga Boys' College's Jack Muir, who won the role of the ANZ Coin Toss Kid at Tuesday's ODI. He got to join the two team captains - India's Virat Kohli and New Zealand's Kane Williamson - on the pitch before Tuesday's Black Caps vs India clash.
The 12-year-old Albion Ōtūmoetai player was excited to meet his cricketing heroes and said "the whole experience has been really cool".
"I got to meet all my favourite players, I got signatures from everyone and had photographs taken with them too."
Bay of Plenty Cricket development manager Scott Steward says hosting such big names in cricket will have a big impact on the sport through out the region. He says children from all around the Bay of Plenty - including the eastern Bay of Plenty, Taupō and Rotorua - have been able to benefit from the Bay Oval's big season of hosting international cricket stars, through watching them play, interacting with their heroes and taking part in skills sessions.
"What we're trying to do at Bay of Plenty Cricket is to lift our junior cricketers with as many opportunities as possible," Steward says.
"These games and New Zealand Cricket and their sponsors do certainly help develop that."
At the moment, around the Bay of Plenty there are more than 2000 people registered to play cricket. Bay of Plenty Cricket also visit about 8000 kids, bringing the sport to them.
He says these games also help grow the sport, which he says isn't evident immediately, but will be in future season.