Money is never an obstacle for Allen Stanford and with the second instalment of his 20/20 tournament beginning later this month his ground in Antigua has undergone some extensive work. Facilities for players and spectators alike have been upgraded including new practice areas and new catering services for the public.
The practice pitches at the south-eastern corner of the field have been removed, and an entirely new facility, complete with lights and a player's pavilion has been built to the south western end of the ground.
"The original grounds were built for club cricket and only a few hundred spectators," said project executive Scott Glendinning. "But after the success of the 20/20 competition in 2006 and Sir Allen's decision to make it an annual event, we set about to build permanent facilities focussing on improving the quality of the Stanford 20/20 experience for everyone involved.
"The players, the fans, the event staff and the television crew will all benefit from the upgrades worth over US$5 million, providing permanent world-class facilities for everyone."
During the 2006 tournament after heavy rainfall the outfield dried quickly but there were two areas which caused some concern to Andy Roberts, the ground and pitch advisor, and Steve Watt, the landscape architect. These two areas have been modified to ensure that the outfield is completely drained as quickly as possible and play can resume.
Making life easier for the players, new pavilions have been built on the boundary for each team. This allowed the renovation team to demolish old locker rooms under the main grandstand and double the public toilets to help reduce queues.
Spectators on the northern grass banks will no longer have to walk all the way to the grandstand on the opposite side of the ground to find facilities. They will have their own Party Plaza, a set of trailers which provide an uninterrupted view of the action and catering facilities, a few steps down behind the grass bank.
"The food and beverage trailer is of the highest standard in the industry and will transform the Party Plaza into a fun place" said Glendinning. "In addition to meeting all the sanitation requirements of top restaurants, it has a complete stainless steel finish throughout, a walk-in cooler, four draught beer taps, two soda fountains, warming ovens and will provide top of the line full food and beverage service."
Just to add to the glitzy feeling a clock, worth US$50,000, has been placed on the top of the pavilion and the first batsman to hit it will pocket US$100,000. Money pours out of this event.