WACA makes strides towards redevelopment into boutique venue

The Federal Government has committed AUD$30 million to the project which will see capacity cut at the venue

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
From the old to the new: the WACA and the Perth stadium, Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day, December 17, 2017

From the old to the new: the WACA and the Perth stadium  •  Getty Images

The WACA has traded off a reduced capacity in a bid to secure the multi-million dollar funding to allow them to redevelop the ground into a boutique multi-purpose venue.
On Sunday, it was announced that the Federal Government had committed AUS$30 million to the project. Another AUD$4 million will come from Cricket Australia with the WACA contributing AUD$10 million. The rest is likely to come from the state government, although that has yet to be approved.
After the redevelopment, the ground will have a permanent capacity of 10,000 with the ability to increase that to 15,000 when demand allows/ There remains the ambition of hosting men's internationals although the high profile matches will go to the new Perth Stadium across the river.
"The state government has a hierarchy of stadiums and wouldn't fund this if it was bigger than 15,000, so we thought as a day-to-day need we wouldn't need that presently. But we have factored in the facilities we'd need," WACA CEO Christina Matthews said. "It's absolutely in line for having Test matches against those new countries and the smaller countries.
"So many of us have a cherished WACA Ground memory and now we can retain its heritage and rich history, while creating a venue with a strong community focus that has multi-sport, gender equal facilities. This funding commitment will provide an opportunity to utilise the WACA Ground as a boutique ground that complements Optus Stadium."
From a cricket perspective, the WACA will become a high-performance hub in the way Junction Oval in Melbourne and Allan Border Oval in Brisbane are, with New South Wales also in the process of building a new headquarters in Sydney.
The Australians trained at the WACA in the lead-up to the first Test against New Zealand. The ground will host five matches at next year's Women's T20 World Cup while it continues to be used for Western Australia's matches, the WBBL and age-group cricket. BBL matches take place at Perth Stadium.
Kevin Roberts, the Cricket Australia chief executive, said: "Much like (Justin) Langer and (Dennis) Lillee, the WACA Ground defines the history of cricket in WA. Today's announcement is an historic moment for the WACA Ground and very significant for Australian Cricket. This investment will revitalise the WACA Ground and ensure that it will continue to serve as the Home of Cricket in WA for many years to come."
Langer, the Australia head coach who played his whole career for Western Australia, added: "I've never been shy about declaring how much I love the WACA Ground and the role it's played in my career. But it's not just about history, now we can look to the future and know the WACA Ground can continue to be a place where memories are made."
The crowds for the ongoing Test against New Zealand at Perth Stadium have been modest with 19,084 on the opening day, 20,018 on the second and 17,104 on the third although that is partly being attributed to the heatwave conditions which have seen temperatures push above 40C degrees. However, there is more shading available at Perth Stadium which was one of major criticisms of the WACA.
It was not an ideal day for the new stadium on Sunday when they had to issue a product recall when concerns were raised about uncooked chicken being present in a wrap served in the food stalls.
A message on the big screens at the ground said: "If you have purchased any sandwiches, wraps or salads containing chicken at the stadium today please present back to the outlet of purchase immediately."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo