Friday, August 16, 2013

The Press on Hagley Oval

Unsurprisingly, The Press supports the Environment Court's decision to allow the redevelopment of Hagley Oval into an international cricket venue; check this out:

In the end, the Environment Court found a middle ground few suspected existed.
Judge Jane Borthwick placed several strict conditions on Hagley Oval's future as an international cricket venue, including a limit on the number of major fixtures.
But what matters most this morning is that Christchurch is set to host the Cricket World Cup, and Canterbury Cricket should be able to build the venue it wants.
Perhaps a very happy Mayor Bob Parker summed it up best last night when he told The Press: "This in some way makes up for the loss of the Rugby World Cup."
The court's conditions, however, may just have made a black-and-white issue a shade of grey. They will certainly make the decision more palatable to those who opposed a world-class cricket venue in Christchurch's green centrepiece.
Many of Hands off Hagley's concerns were addressed, and Canterbury Cricket has not been granted all the goodies it desired.
A plan to use the Polo Grounds behind Hagley Oval for parking, via a Deans Ave entrance, goes a long way to deal with traffic concerns, while conditions on future development were also addressed.

There is an element of compromise in Judge Jane Borthwick's decision, and that is good; it has probably circumvented any appeal. The important issue now for Canterbury Cricket is to obtain Council support for the redevelopment, although Bob Parker indicated yesterday that the CCC has already made provision for this. That is great news.

The editorial then makes the point that this will be a real cricket ground, not an artificial stadium; read on:

This is to be a boutique cricket ground, not a concrete jungle and, according to Judge Borthwick, it will add to Hagley Park, not take away from it.
Hagley Oval will not be used by cricketers as often as Canterbury Cricket would like, and there are tight restrictions on the number of big games.
Canterbury Cricket sought an upper limit of 20 days of major fixtures a season. They were allowed 13.
They wanted to use temporary seating to boost the ground's capacity from 12,000 up to 20,000 twice a season, but have been allowed to do that only twice every three years. The World Cup, however, appears to be exempt from those rules.
Hands off Hagley have 15 days to appeal the decision but this would have to be based on a point of law. Spokesman Martin Meehan last night indicated they would take a week to decide on their next move. 

As Lancaster Park was redeveloped (and as the name changed), it lost its character as a cricket ground. Sure; it was the site of some famous cricketing moments, none greater than New Zealand's first test match win against Australia in 1974. But as rugby intruded, the ground lost its character and suitability for cricket; the boundaries shrank, and the shape of the ground (as with Eden Park) was rugby oriented. Getting a purpose-built cricket oval in the heart of the city will be a real fillip for Canterbury cricket.

And a huge ovation is due to a former New Zealand cricket captain:

Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon and New Zealand head of the World Cup Therese Walsh, were understandably delighted - and relieved - with the decision.
This has been Germon's baby since soon after he took over as chief executive in 2009. It is not a post-quake land-grab as some have suggested. There are still hurdles to overcome, but the Environment Court was by far the biggest.
Provided the Christchurch City Council approves the lease and scope of works, provided the funding is found, and provided there is no successful appeal, the development of Hagley Oval to a picturesque cricket ground featuring an $8m pavilion, $8m of light towers, and a 2.5-metre embankment will go ahead. 

We look forward to a positive decision from the Christchurch City Council in the near future. Then Christchurch cricket fans can begin the countdown to 14 February 2015 with considerable anticipation.

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