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New pavilion complex on schedule

Hampshire's 2m pavilion will be open for business when Leicestershire visit on April 24 - and the changing rooms will include the only jacuzzis on the county circuit.

The state-of-the-art edifice is on course for completion on March 25 and will be open to members when Leicestershire arrive for the County Championship in six weeks' time.

Work started on the pavilion in November and the three-storey structure will have a capacity of 600, with room for 560 on the top deck, when Hampshire open their campaign back in Division One of the championship.

Rose Bowl project manager Geoff Cox said: "The players have had a look round and have been very impressed, not least with the jacuzzis!

"It was partly their idea to have them fitted and partly the chairman's and is one of the features that makes this pavilion extra special.

"We made sure that we spoke with the players and the catering staff before we started work to make sure that everyone is happy with the final product.

"The front of the building is curved so spectators will get magnificent views from wherever they sit. It'll be spectacular.

"We're well on course to make the March 25 completion date. At this time of year the weather is in our favour and we've ordered everything, including the cups and saucers.

"I'm looking forward to seeing it up and running. We started work on my birthday, when Graham Walker sent me a card saying it's not often you get 2m to spend!"

The first floor will be dominated by a Lord's-style long room decorated with club memorabilia while hospitality suites, each with a capacity of 20, will be available for executive members.

Bars on each floor will be supplied by two cellars while kitchen staff will be able to cater for 180 people.

The pavilion's first function will be the Mayor of Eastleigh's Ball in a month's time.

Chief executive Graham Walker said: "The pavilion will be a truly world-class facility and will enable us to accommodate 600 guests 365 days a year.

"People are not going to be disappointed. We've already got arguably the best cricket academy in the country but people will be staggered by this pavilion."

Project manager Cox and his team will work round the clock to make sure the Rose Bowl's showpiece is up and running in a fortnight.

But they will not have time to enjoy the start to the new season following the granting of planning permission for the 64-bay driving range.

"We'll be starting on that as soon as we finish the pavilion," added Geoff. "It never stops!"