A $2 million project to convert Albany's QBE Stadium into a baseball field is underway.
The venue is set to host the Auckland Tuatara in the Australian Baseball League over the next nine seasons, beginning with the 2019-20 campaign later this year.
To have the ground ready for use in the team's first home series, which was expected to be in November, about 3000 seats in the uncovered west stand of the ground will be removed. Dugouts will also be installed and a six-metre tall wall will be built in left field akin to the 'Green Monster' at Boston's Fenway Park.
The work is being funded by Regional Facilities Auckland, and acting director James Parkinson said it had been a project that was a long time in the making.
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"It's a project that we're really excited about. It fits in strategically with what we're looking to achieve with the wider site here," Parkinson said.
"The chance to not only bring a new professional sport and give them a home here in Auckland, but to also lift the utilisation of the venue here and together with that, bring a whole new demographic to the stadium that traditionally hasn't been attracted here with the events we've had on offer."
The Tuatara played their inaugural season hosting games at Te Atatu's McLeod Park as QBE Stadium was unable to be converted for the 2018-19 ABL due to time restraints. As a result, the team were only able to host three of their five home series in Auckland, with the other two being playing in Australia.
This year, all five series would be held at QBE Stadium which was being touted as the best venue in the league.
"It was a tough year for them on the field and with all the travel they had to do," Australian Baseball League chief executive Cam Vale said.
"But it was never about one year. This is a long term plan for the sport and obviously with Auckland being part of the competition, even being here and seeing how quickly after one year, year two could be in this venue, it's just phenomenal.
"It still doesn't quite feel real, to be frank, because this will be the best venue in the ABL. For a team to do that in their second year…to convert a rectangular stadium into a baseball venue that has the seating capacity, the lighting, the infrastructure, all the things you want from a big stadium, but to effectively be a pop-up venue for baseball is a game-changer for the sport in this region."