Lancashire have revealed plans for a massive four-year redevelopment of Old Trafford which will turn England's second-oldest Test venue into a state-of-the-art 25,000 capacity stadium. The project is part of a £200 million investment into a site surrounding the ground.
Trafford Council has welcomed the proposals, part of an innovative sports-led regeneration strategy for a 50-acre mixed use neighbourhood in Old Trafford. A planning application for the first phase of the new stadium development will be lodged imminently with works potentially starting in early 2009, and phased over consecutive years until completion in late 2012.
The proposals include new player and media facilities, as well as conferencing, banqueting and hotel facilities. There will be two new grandstands which will give a permanent capacity of 15,000, but up to 10,000 more will be able to be accommodated by means of temporary seating. There will also be floodlights and permanent replay screens.
The first phase includes a new outfield, based on the system in place at Lord's, and this is being laid during the close season.
The new designs also include the re-orientation of the wicket, to see the square run from north to south for the first time in 150 years. Changing the original east to west orientation will resolve sunlight issues which have affected players. The new square, which will take 18 months to bed in, will also be larger in size, allowing for five new wickets to be constructed, giving Lancashire the ability to bid for more high profile matches, including internationals. To allow the wicket to be ready in time for The Ashes in 2013, play would need to begin on the new square in 2011.
"The proposals come at a time of fierce competition for the rights to stage Test matches which has recently seen the ground, and the region, fail to secure any for the foreseeable future," a statement issued by the county said. "The significant investment being made in the new facilities will ensure that Old Trafford regains its rightful place on the Test circuit in time for the 2013 Ashes Test."
"The Old Trafford brand has a massive standing in world cricket. The club has been on the same site since 1857," Jim Cumbes, Lancashire's chief executive, said. "Our membership and cricket lovers everywhere recognise the contribution that the club makes locally to the economy through visitor attraction, image, marketing and employment in the borough.
"Together with our local partners, the Northwest Development Agency and Sport England, we will work towards delivering a scheme which will have at its heart a new stadium fit for the next 150 years, and which will be recognised as world-class standard, fit for the UK's greatest sporting city region and serving the huge cricketing fan base in the north west.