Australian news May 2, 2011

Adelaide Oval upgrade gets green light from members

ESPNcricinfo staff

The picturesque Adelaide Oval will become a 50,000-seat stadium with drop-in pitches after South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) members approved a major upgrade to the venue. The proposal needed at least 75% support to go ahead, and at a meeting on Monday night, 80% of votes from SACA members approved the redevelopment.

The decision means Australian rules football will return to Adelaide Oval, and the SACA will share the venue with the AFL's two Adelaide-based clubs. The upgrade sparked heated debate among South Australians, some of whom felt the ground would lose its character if the move went ahead, but it had the unanimous support of the SACA board.

"This decision heralds a new era for cricket and football in South Australia with benefits over the coming decades for the State as a whole", the SACA president Ian McLachlan said of the upgrade, which will cost the the state government more than half a billion dollars. "It is the result of years of negotiations and detailed work by many people and the vision of the State Government to fund this important improvement in South Australia's infrastructure."

The move does not put the Adelaide Test at risk, and while most Sheffield Shield matches will still be held at the venue, there is the chance of the occasional state game being moved to the beachside suburb of Glenelg. Drop-in pitches will need to be used at Adelaide Oval from 2014, when the Adelaide and Port Adelaide AFL clubs start playing there.

More than 2000 of the SACA's 19,500 members attended Monday's meeting, while a further 8000 had already lodged a proxy vote. The SACA's $85 million debt will be cleared as part of the proposal.

McLachlan described the financial benefits for the SACA, which has lagged behind the on-field performances of other state associations for some years, and the wider windfall for the state.

"SACA's stronger finances and debt-free position will mean millions of extra dollars a year available to be invested in developing cricket all around the State from junior level to the Sheffield Shield," he said. "Adelaide will have the most modern sporting venue in the country with world-class facilities in the best location in any capital city.

"The redeveloped Oval will draw large crowds to the city on a regular basis throughout the year, creating opportunities for hotels, restaurants, bars and shops in the CBD and encouraging increased visitation from interstate. It will enable Adelaide to complete more effectively with other interstate and international venues to attract major events, whether sporting or cultural such as concerts."