The new £32m Development will turn Edgbaston into one of the Leading Test and County Cricket Grounds in the World
On Monday 25th July the official opening of Edgbaston’s new £32 million stand development will take place, taking Edgbaston into a new era of entertainment and making it one of the leading Test and County cricket grounds in the world.
The development, which will be ready in time for England’s Test against India in August, will see increased capacity for spectators, a new conference and banqueting suite for 700 guests, new executive boxes and ultra-modern playing, corporate, office and member facilities.
Tickets for the game between England and the World Cup champions India for the Test match which begins on 10th August have been selling like hot cakes as the ground capacity increases from 21,000 to 25,000 thanks to the new development between the Eric Hollies and Priory stands which is now near completion.
For the first time since the 1890s, the brand new and imposing Edgbaston Road end of the ground, has replaced the old Pavilion and office facilities which had become a relic of the past.
Five concentrated floodlights surround the ground which will provide lighting for up to 15 days of cricket a year.
Visitors wishing to know more about the history of the ground will have the chance to visit the brand new Visitors Centre. Replacing the old club museum, the new area which occupies the first floor of the stand has 14 zones covering extensively Edgbaston’s history.
Inside the new development, the floors to a 750-seater banqueting suite and to the exquisite hospitality lounges have been laid, with bookings already established for many months to come.
Catering will be provided by a new joint venture with Compass Group UK and Ireland’s Sport, Leisure and Hospitality business, part of the UK’s largest food service provider. The FTSE 100 Company, which already operates similar successful partnerships with other iconic sporting venues at the Kia Oval and Twickenham Stadium, cements Edgbaston’s position as a world class venue.
The venture, which will trade as Edgbaston Experience Ltd, will provide all catering and hospitality for Edgbaston’s substantial matchday and conference and banqueting business which attracts up to 200,000 visitors per year.
Another corporate partnership is the signing of a three year sponsorship deal with Jaguar. The relationship is reflected in the naming of the new corporate hospitality facilities. The Jaguar Club, recognised as the “creme de la creme” of corporate packages, has already attracted the attention of cricket lovers with hospitality packages proving to be very popular. From breath-taking views of the pitch to fantastic haute cuisine dining, the Jaguar Club will offer the ultimate cricketing viewing experience.
Alongside the Jaguar Club, the executive 1882 Club, named after the year the club was formed, will host one hundred members including famous names such as former England and Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor and Black Country comedian and national radio presenter Frank Skinner.
Warwickshire’s Chief Executive Colin Povey, supported by a forward-thinking board of directors, has been the driving force behind the development which Colin argues is necessary if Edgbaston is to continue as a major venue for England Test Matches in the future.
Colin points to the fact that the development balances the sporting and corporate demands that face major cricketing venues: “Doing a project on this scale has meant that we can integrate the cricketing and corporate needs of the club, therefore ensuring that our corporate facilities are as strong as our match facilities. This is a much more sustainable approach and will help secure the future of the club and the ground”.
The redevelopment of the ground is one of the biggest chapters in Warwickshire’s history and comes as the club fights to retain regular international fixtures at Edgbaston. All traditional Test match arenas such as Edgbaston, Trent Bridge and Old Trafford have come under increasing pressure in recent years with the emergence of venues such as Cardiff and the Riverside at Durham.
The chief executive reflects upon this; “The choice we had was to do something piecemeal or in a big way and we took the latter view, to make the ground a real amphitheatre for international cricket.
“It will give Warwickshire a good chance of attracting the most high-profile matches with capacity greater than Nottingham’s 17,000 Trent Bridge stadium, or Glamorgan’s 15,000-seater Swalec Stadium.”
Work on the development began on site in January 2010 with the demolition of the old buildings. Construction started in April 2010 with a 66 week build period and with the Official Opening happening in July, the developers have taken less than two years to build a world class sporting venue. A striking feature of the new ground is the curved shell of the building on the Edgbaston Road side of the ground. This structure hangs over the entrance, providing extra space for revamped players’ rooms and gym, a members’ lounge and the executive 1882 club.
From the outside, this imposing structure holds true to ‘Fortress Edgbaston’ which the new ground is aspiring to be.
So will the development be open in time for the England v India Test Match in August? Without a doubt Colin argues.
“We are expecting for our developers Galliford Try to hand over the keys as planned on Friday 1st July. We have targeted the Test as the critical event, but between July 1st and Day 1 of the Test Match, we will have some Twenty20s, televised games and a championship match so all areas of how the stadium operates will be tried out.
“The Test will be a real challenge because the building will still be very new. We will go pretty quickly from low crowds and temporary facilities to an all-singing all-dancing stadium, catering for England and the World Champions”.
The brand new spectator, player and media facilities are in Colin’s eyes, the essence for a smooth match and non-match day experience: “If you don’t have key areas like the dressing-rooms, match control, media and conference and banqueting in good nick you will feel the pain immediately”
“We don’t want Sachin Tendulkar turning on the showers and complaining the water’s cold!”
The new player facilities which include new medical suites, recovery areas, a gym, new practice nets and an improved outfield draining system will all ensure that the players have the best resources at their disposable.