The WACA Ground is set to increase its capacity to 30,000 in a major development project that should be completed within four years. The move means nearly all major cricket matches in Perth will be played at the ground, although one-off games like a Twenty20 international or a 2015 World Cup match could be shifted to Subiaco Oval, the purpose-built football stadium that holds 41,000 fans.
The development will also see two residential towers, two office blocks and a retail and entertainment precinct built near the ground. New northern grandstands will provide the 6000-head increase in capacity. However, the WACA's practice facilities will be lost, meaning a new Centre for Cricket Excellence will be built at the University of Western Australia's Sports Park in Floreat.
Graeme Wood, the WACA chief executive, said ensuring the future of the venue was a major achievement. "This is quite simply one of the most important announcements in the proud history of the Western Australian Cricket Association," Wood said.
"Today we have secured the world famous WACA Ground as the home of cricket in Western Australia and we have done it while also securing the financial future of the sport. The WACA is an iconic ground in world cricket and an important part of WA's sporting history so I am sure most West Australians will agree that this development is a fantastic result for WA sport."
The WACA will retain ownership of the stadium, while the rest of the development will be held by a joint venture of the WACA and Ascot Capital Limited. David Williams, the WACA chairman, conceded there were potential stumbling-blocks, including the need for the government to rezone the area to allow the high-rise buildings. The WACA also wants government funding to help complete the project, on top of the $250 million supplied by the developers.
Williams said the credit for moving the proposal forward should go to Dennis Lillee, the WACA president. "[He] has relentlessly pursued our vision of utilising part of our land-bank in partnership with private equity and he is responsible for creating this wonderful opportunity," Williams said.
No interruption in international or domestic fixtures is expected. The three- to four-year time-frame should mean the development is ready in time for the next Ashes series in Australia, to be held in 2010-11.