County news December 19, 2011

Local council to buy the Rose Bowl

ESPNcricinfo staff

Hampshire's Rose Bowl will be bought by the local council to save the club from its second financial crisis in a decade. Eastleigh Borough Council will buy a 999-year lease on the 167-acre site for £6.5 million and Hampshire will rent the ground for £420,000 a year.

The council will also provide £30 million in loans to fund the remainder of the ground development which includes plans for a 175-bedroom hotel, conference centre and 18-hole championship golf course.

Hampshire have over £12 million of debts and their future revenue streams was hit when they were not awarded an Ashes Test for 2013 or 2015. Their rain-affected Test match in June against Sri Lanka also made heavy losses.

Chairman Rod Bransgrove took over Hampshire in 2000 with the club £1.8 million in debt and in danger of going out of business. He told the Times he is going to invest "a few more million" having already pumped £6 million into the club.

"I cannot just walk away from that but I cannot keep funding losses either. We are going to have to work as a profitable company with effect from next year," said Bransgrove. "We have agreed a good deal for everyone. People who think I am in this for myself do not know me. The £6.5 million is not for me, it will ease borrowing."

The deal has been opposed by a local hotelier, who intends to appeal a decision by the High Court to dismiss his initial objection in 2009. But the council have similar deals with other private-sector businesses.

"This decision is good news for our residents and the local economy," said leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, Keith House. "This exciting scheme will help to bring around £55million a year to the local economy and create around 500 local jobs and protect and develop a world class sporting venue. We want the Rose Bowl to be one of the world's great cricket venues."

The Rose Bowl will stage ODIs against West Indies and South Africa in 2012 and eight further international matches by 2016. But only one Test match; against India in 2014.