Cricket Ireland gives the green light to national stadium at National Sports Campus

BY Stephen Doyle 16:22 Wednesday 28 February 2018, 16:22 28 Feb 2018

Matchday at Malahide - ©INPHO/Presseye/Rowland White

Cricket Ireland is set to get a new home after the governing body's board announced the decision to approve the development of a National Cricket Stadium at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus in Dublin.

It has also approved its largest ever operational budget of €9 million.

Abbotstown was one of two locations under consideration along with Malahide Cricket Club which has been used to stage the majority of the Irish international team's big fixtures.

Cricket Ireland hired an external expert to evaluate the existing option of redeveloping Malahide Cricket Ground or else to pursue the development of a new National Cricket Stadium at Abbotstown. And while they acknowledge the superior transport links to the north Dublin venue, they list the following reasons as to why the West Dublin location was chosen:

  • Malahide CC’s location within the sensitive heritage environment of Malahide Castle Demesne and its close proximity to residential housing – with its associated challenges around planning and development as well as expansion in future years

  • The need for a reasonable balance of international matches at Malahide CC with the right for club members to be able to use their venue for club matches and events;

  • The Sport Ireland National Sports Campus’ location on a green field site with space to plan and develop with fewer planning and zoning restrictions;

  • The presence on the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus of world-class sports, fitness and training facilities, that would become readily available for cricket players to utilise;

  • The co-location of other CI infrastructure such as CI’s administrative HQ and (under-construction) outdoor training facility to realise operating efficiencies and cost savings.

The senior men alone are expected to play about 60 home matches over the next five seasons while added to that will be women’s and youth international matches, men’s Inter-Provincial and women’s Super 3’s matches, major club finals as well as any future fixtures/competitions that may be developed.

“It has been no secret that our initial thinking was based around a re-development and expansion of Malahide Cricket Club," said Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom. "However, the report informed the Board’s deliberations around a number of important issues around venue access and future-proofing."

"When we selected Malahide as the location for our main stadium in Dublin a decade ago, Irish cricket was in a very different position with a much smaller fixture list. By achieving Test status and joining the FTP, we’ve had to ask ourselves the tough question of whether that decision is still fit-for-purpose.

"Fundamentally, if we are to request substantial sums from Government, we need to be sure we can deliver on our programme of cricket matches at permanently-constructed venues which are commensurate with our new status."

Deutrom is keen to show his gratitude to all of those involved with Malahide CC who have contributed so much in getting Irish cricket to this level.

"It was a decision the Board did not take lightly. Every member of the Board acknowledged the emotional ties we have developed with Malahide – particularly after some of the big games of recent years – and the decision should not in any way be seen as a reflection on the club.

"In fact, Malahide’s members and volunteers have been superb to deal with over many years, but our entry into the FTP will place requirements for availability on the club that will be unrealistic for members who will understandably want access to their main pitch to play their own fixtures.

"We have kept Malahide Cricket Club informed of the process, but regardless of any future decision we are keen for Malahide to remain in use as an international ground for many years to come, and we look forward to continuing our close coordination with the Club and its members.

"Today’s announcement is simply a statement of intent by the Board - to keep discussions transparent and open with our fans, players and stakeholders within the game."

With regard to the approval of the multi-million euro operational budget, Deutrom admits that Cricket Ireland's promotion to Test status will provide them with many new budgetary issues to sort out.

“What has also become clear in compiling our very first ‘full member’ budget has been the onerous cost of being a Test nation, most obviously demonstrated in physically putting on a Test match.

"This is certainly no surprise, but ensuring we balance the cost of putting on Test matches against investment in the white-ball formats and other strategic areas will be an area for Board focus in the near future.

"This fact, combined with the significantly weaker US dollar (in which we receive much of our income), has had a real impact on our 2018 revenues, and therefore our options for investment."

He does however believe that the extra finances now available will help the governing body to improve the sport in many other aspects.

"That said, the budget does include a significant increase in financial resources dedicated to the women’s game and, recognising that progressing opportunity for women and girls within our sport remains a priority, we hope to see a number of initiatives around improving women’s cricket over the coming months.

"The Board recognised a number of on-field performances by national players, most notably the achievements of Kim Garth and Isobel Joyce who both featured prominently in the recent Women’s Big Bash League in Australia, including Kim playing an important part in the eventual competition winning team."

Meanwhile ahead of the First Test (versus Pakistan) and the T20Is (versus India), Cricket Ireland have confirmed that more than 12,000 tickets (across the Test and two T20Is) have been sold, and approximately 50% of hospitality packages sold (with Day One of the Test fully sold-out).

In addition to the international matches already advertised, the Board formally approved six matches being added to the international men’s team schedule in 2018. These include three T20Is and three one-day internationals to be played in late August at Bready and Stormont.

 

The schedule will be:

IRELAND v AFGHANISTAN - 2018

Date

Time

Match Type*

Venue

20-Aug

1600

1st T20I

Bready CC

22-Aug

1600

2nd T20I

Bready CC

24-Aug

1600

3rd T20I

Bready CC

27-Aug

1045

1st ODI

Stormont

29-Aug

1045

2nd ODI

Stormont

31-Aug

1045

3rd ODI

Stormont

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