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WACA faces uncertain future

Brydon Coverdale

December 17, 2013

Comments: 41 | Text size: A | A

The game under blue skies at the WACA, Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 1st day, January 13, 2012
The WACA's redevelopment plan has been abandoned © Getty Images
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The WACA faces an uncertain future as an international venue after a major redevelopment plan was abandoned on Monday. The project had been intended to provide the venue with financial security by linking an upgrade of the ground to the construction of commercial and residential buildings on site, but disappointing pre-sales for that development has led to the scrapping of the plan.

That means the WACA will need to find another way of increasing the ground's capacity and improving its facilities to meet ICC standards. Perth has already been left off the Test schedule for next summer, where there are only four Tests against India due to the presence of the World Cup in the fixture later in the season, and unless it can fund an upgrade it may be in danger of losing future international matches.

It is likely that from 2018, major internationals in Perth will be held at the Burswood Stadium, which is currently under construction opposite the WACA on the east side of the Swan River. That venue will be a multi-purpose and mulit-sport 60,000-seat stadium that the Western Australia minister for sport and recreation Terry Waldron said last week would be fan-friendly from day one.

"The WACA is the home of cricket in Western Australia and will continue to be," Waldron said. "The construction of this 60,000-seat stadium with the ability to play cricket here gives them flexibility to hold big matches here, the bigger Tests, one-day internationals, World Cup fixtures, Twenty20 competitions. This stadium will be world-class right from the start. It will be for the fans."

However, since then the WACA's redevelopment has been shelved, leaving the situation until the completion of the Burswood Stadium unclear. The WACA chairman, Sam Gannon, said that the residential and commercial proposal couldn't go ahead due to the lack of sales.

"Despite strong sales up to November and a renewed marketing effort, we have been unable to achieve the pre-sales target required to achieve finance on acceptable terms in time to meet our commitments for the 2015 Cricket World Cup," Gannon said. "I would like to thank the board and advisors for their considered advice. We have given this development every opportunity but the final decision not to proceed is in the best long-term interest of members and stakeholders."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by LoungeChairCritic on (December 19, 2013, 5:58 GMT)

@9-monkeys well said. You are a lot braver man than me taking a 7 year old to the cricket. I am still scarred by taking my 7 year old nephew to an Ashes match about 12 years ago. The now 6ft 3 19 year old couldn't stay still. I rang my sister to come and pick him up about 3pm just in front of the Gloucester Park gates. In the half hour I waited for her, I missed a quick fire Adam Gilchrist run a ball 40. He virtually got out just as my bumb hit the seat. On a happy note, my nephew still enjoys watching cricket.

Posted by 9-Monkeys on (December 19, 2013, 2:13 GMT)

Meety, I'm with LoungeChairCritic. I did take my seven year old son to the WACA on Saturday and the little bloke almost expired sitting in the designated alcohol-free unshaded family area. The temperature touched 46 degrees and the majority of the crowd (60%+ I'm guessing) had little or no cover. Not good enough. I'm sorry, but it is an appalling venue and the WACA has completely goosed its attempts to raise the necessary money to appropriately redevelop it. A move to Burswood with drop-in pitches based on the unique clay used in the existing centre wicket is the answer.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2013, 18:11 GMT)

let's start 'save the WACA' campaign!!!

Posted by LoungeChairCritic on (December 18, 2013, 8:17 GMT)

@meety I am sure the WA Cricket Association would be able to pay an experienced consultant like Les Burdett (ex Adelaide curator) to make sure that the clay content is high to replicate the WACA pitch. Meety the WACA holds so many wonderful memories for me, but there is no way I am going to take my young family there to bake all day in 40 degree heat. According to my friends who went on the weekend, the ground is just not up to scratch. You know that you are in a bad place when the temp is 40 degrees plus and you can't be bothered having a beer in the outer because it will take you 30 minutes to get one.

Posted by LoungeChairCritic on (December 18, 2013, 7:36 GMT)

Although I acknowledge that so many people around the world love the WACA, I think some consideration should be given to the people of Perth. We are the one's who will miss out on a Indian test next year, we are the one's who will be forced to watch a second rate World Cup game like Australia v Afghanistan because our ground is not big enough, we are the one's who have to put up with a poor facility whilst paying premium entry prices. If we do not move to a bigger stadium, cricket will be left behind in the West. The new stadium will virtually be on the opposite side of the river about 1km from the WACA. The WA cricket association needs to become both cashflow and asset rich to remain viable. At the moment it is like a 70 year old who lives in a multi million dollar old house in an expensive suburb but can't afford to live off the pension.

Posted by Meety on (December 18, 2013, 7:02 GMT)

@LoungeChairCritic on (December 18, 2013, 5:56 GMT) - most of my International cricket viewing has been at the Gabba. It is a great stadium for football, & provided a fantastic atmosphere during the Ashes, (was there Day 2, & the 6/9 collapse of the Poms created an atmosphere I have never witnessed at the cricket b4) - that said, I prefer the old Gabba as the fun Police have sapped a lot of the enjoyment out of being at the cricket. I don't why the ICC are insisting on larger ground capacities IMO it is none of their business. I suppose, IF Test cricket is played at Burswood, they would have to GUARANTEE the nature of the WACA strip is transferred.

Posted by LoungeChairCritic on (December 18, 2013, 5:56 GMT)

As a Perth local, I can't wait until cricket is played at Burswood. Even though I am a cricket tragic, you could of given me a free ticket last weekend and there is no way I would of gone to the game. The state government is making a significant investment in a creating 60,000 seat stadium and a "greenfield" entertainment precinct at Burswood. Of the 5 regular test venues, the WACA is the only stadium that has one tenant. The WACA board needs to resume talks with the state government. They should look to re-create an Alan Border field sporting complex in a suburban location. Shield games could be played there whilst test matches, one dayers and 20/20 games can be played at Burswood. Like the Adelaide Oval, the WACA pitch would be able to be replicated in a drop in pitch. I am aware that the WACA has a 999 year lease on the site. My guesstimate is that they are sitting on between a $70 million to $100 million dollar asset. Hopefully a sensible decision is made.

Posted by duralsumo on (December 18, 2013, 2:27 GMT)

Having visited the WACA in 2009 and seeing Gayle forced hundred and as well as organising my cricket clubs (Sydney Based) yearly tour I am sad that the WACA is facing the situation it is now in. However my impression is that nothing has been done on the WACA since the1980s and the ground reflects this. As a tour orgnanisor I found that Hobart did not provide the transport on match day and Perth is a run down ground. Perth was a very popular tour amongst my club members and our Tasmanian tour offered a true cricketing experience for the group. It will be sad if these two venues dissapear of the test line up in the futue. I can only sell Brisbane and Adelaide so many times and unfortunately Melbourne does not fit in to our schedule due to family commitments of most of the members of our club.

Posted by pat_one_back on (December 18, 2013, 1:01 GMT)

There were similar threats to the SCG when the Olympic Stadium was built, the SCG now stands prouder than ever and I'm yet to hear any talk of drop in pitches, hopefully never will. Reports on facility management & catering sound similar to the SCG 20 years ago too. Hopefully some learnings and business strategy can be sent west, Sydney's far from perfect but definitely sustainable and respectful of it's heritage.

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 17, 2013, 23:10 GMT)

If they can't save the ground they should dig that pitch square up and put in a museum. It would be a crying shame to lose this place to cricket. Surely something can be done.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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