Eden Park tests on hold as cricket seeks alternative venue
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Cricket says it favors developing a new test venue in Auckland because Eden Park, which has hosted test matches for 88 years, is no longer financially viable.
Chief executive David White said Eden Park will not host a test when Sri Lanka and Bangladesh tour next year and NZC hopes to see a former speedway track, Western Springs, become the new international cricket venue in New Zealand's biggest city.
Eden Park was a venue in New Zealand's first test series in 1930, hosted the match against the West Indies in which New Zealand claimed its first test win in 1956, hosted a semifinal of the 2015 Cricket World Cup and earlier this year was the venue for New Zealand's first day-night test.
But in a submission to the Auckland Council, as part of its venue development strategy, White said it was a "challenge financially" to stage test matches at Eden Park and it would likely not be awarded tests until an alternative venue in Auckland could be found.
"Auckland is currently missing out significantly on international cricket exposure due, primarily, to the lack of a cost-effective, financially-viable venue," White said. "Eden Park, the only ICC-sanctioned arena in New Zealand's most populous city, is unaffordable for all but the biggest and, by definition, the rarest of international cricket fixtures.
"Additionally, Eden Park's small size and rectangular, football-shaped playing field continually risks compromising the integrity of cricket matches hosted there."
White said those were the reasons the Auckland has hosted just three test matches since 2006, and the number of one-day internationals and T20 internationals played in the city "has been a mere fraction of what it would be were it to offer a fit-for-purpose, international-standard cricket ground."
New Zealand Cricket, he said, hopes to see Western Springs developed into "a full-sized, oval-shaped playing arena; able to cater for both small and large crowds in a relaxed, grass-banked, more cricket-centric surrounding."