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18 Nov

Exciting Bradford Park Avenue Development on Track

PLANS have been unveiled to revitalise the famous Park Avenue cricket ground in Bradford and turn it into a £5.5 million state-of-the-art facility.

The bid to restore the ground to its former glory is a partnership between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC), and Bradford Council, with work mapped out in five stages between now and 2019.

A feasibility study has now been completed with details on how the venue would be brought up to first-class cricket standards, with the prospect of the ground being used to host elite women’s and disability cricket, and potentially some Yorkshire first-team games.

As part of work funded by Sport England, the ECB targeted Bradford as one of five cities in which to engage more closely with South-Asian communities.

However, figures in the Council’s Playing Pitch Strategy, released in November last year, suggested there is a shortage of 18 cricket grounds across the district, with that figure rising to 25 venues by 2021.

To boost grass-roots participation, the first stage of the ambitious revamp would see eight practice wickets and nets installed on the site of the former Bradford Park Avenue football pitch, situated next to the ground.

The project would also involve the building of an inclusive changing pavilion, complete with car parking, security fencing, and CCTV, with indicative costs running to £570,000.

An ECB spokesman said: “These are exciting plans which we are working on in partnership with Yorkshire CCC and Bradford Council.

“They will be of enormous benefit to clubs and leagues in the local area, and form an important part of ECB’s wider efforts to support South-Asian cricket communities nationwide.”

Subject to funding, work is provisionally scheduled to begin in the new year, with the aim of having the facility up and running next summer.

“The aim is to create a first-class ground, but it will be a ground primarily for the community,” said Mark Arthur, Chief Executive of Yorkshire CCC.

“It’s a unique concept, and would give Bradford national and international recognition for using cricket as a positive vehicle for social inclusion.

“The plan is for the venue to host some elite games of women’s and disabled cricket, and there may be the chance of the odd Yorkshire game, particularly in 2019 when Headingley has such a busy international schedule.

“It would be extremely useful for us to have that facility in Bradford.”

Cricket was first played on the Park Avenue site in 1872, and between 1880 and 1996 it was used for first-class cricket by Yorkshire CCC.

The ground has since fallen into disrepair, and is now only being used for local league cricket.

Once work to complete the community practice nets is complete, the second phase, costed at £140,000, would involve upgrading the Park Avenue surface to first-class level, as well as renovating the existing scoreboard and groundsman’s store.

Phase three has been identified as the most expensive at £2.5m, the bulk of which would be spent on a new Community Pavilion, with changing rooms fitted to County Cricket standards, a restaurant with a capacity for 250 diners, and more than 1,000 new seats for spectators.

The fourth phase would see a £940,000 revamp of the existing East Stand of the ground, with repairs to existing terraces and boundary walls, and the building of more than 4,000 new seats.

The final stage would see ECB-standard floodlights installed around the ground at a cost of £1.35million, with the full £5.5million project scheduled to be completed by 2019.

According to the feasibility study, annual running costs for the changing pavilion and nets are estimated at £53,450, with developers looking to recoup £46,800 through customer use.

Once it is constructed, the Community Pavilion is expected to cost £321,650 a year to run and upkeep, but it is hoped it will make a profit by generating £420,000 per year through a mixture of cricket, community, and commercial use.

Councillor Imran Khan, executive member for environment and sport for Bradford Council, said: “This scheme will transform Park Avenue cricket ground into a first-class facility for the district, with specialist provision for players with disabilities and ladies’ teams.”

Mr Arthur confirmed that as part of Yorkshire’s agreement with the ECB, the club was looking to bid to be part of the new Women’s Super League, set to start in 2016, and said the plan was for a Yorkshire CCC women’s team to be based in Bradford in the future.

“The plans are exciting for cricket in Bradford, and once the first phase is complete, we are hoping to get 2,000 people a week using the practice facility over the summer months,” he said.

“There is history and tradition at Park Avenue, and this is a fantastic opportunity for regeneration in the heart of what is a growth city.”

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