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NZC eyes alternative to Eden Park for cricket in Auckland

A general view of Eden Park, and its short boundaries Getty Images

Cricket in Auckland could have a new home soon, with New Zealand Cricket (NZC) favouring a shift from Eden Park to a more "cricket-centric" stadium in the city's Western Springs suburb. The cost of hosting games at Eden Park was a primary factor in NZC's desire to move.

In an assessment of Eden Park, submitted to the Auckland Council, NZC also pointed out that the venue was not made for cricket. "Auckland is currently missing out significantly on international cricket exposure due, primarily, to the lack of a cost-effective, financially-viable venue," NZC's assessment said. "Eden Park, the only ICC-sanctioned arena in New Zealand's most populous city, is unaffordable for all but the biggest and, by definition, the rarest of international cricket fixtures.

"Additionally, Eden Park's small size and rectangular, football-shaped playing field continually risks compromising the integrity of cricket matches hosted there... A lack of fan-friendly, cricket-specific features at the arena limits NZC's ability to schedule a greater number of games in the city. For this reason, Auckland has hosted just three Test matches since 2006, and the number of one-day internationals and T20 internationals played in the city has been a mere fraction of what it would be, were it to offer a fit-for-purpose, international-standard cricket ground."

David White, NZC's CEO, told stuff.co.nz that the proposed venue at Western Springs could be ready in time for the Womens' World Cup in 2021. "We're told it could be up and running by then which would be a fantastic outcome," White said. "They've come up with a proposal to have the ground at Western Springs, capacity 20,000, although that could be scaled up or scaled down. A big oval, grass embankment and a natural amphitheatre...

"We've had some fantastic fixtures at Eden Park but it's a very large stadium and it does cost money to open it. You can't run games at a loss. The security, cleaning, traffic-management plan, makes it a challenge for us to play Test matches and smaller international fixtures there."

Eden Park debuted as an international cricket venue in 1930, in New Zealand's first Test series. Since then it has hosted another 49 Test matches, 78 ODIs and 16 T20Is.