London's Marylebone Cricket Club "announced fresh plans" for a £200M ($312M) redevelopment of Lord's Cricket Ground called "The Masterplan" to run through '27 which, it hopes, will "ease the sting from the controversy that has been rumbling for several years," according to Andy Wilson of the London GUARDIAN. The new plans "will involve an increase in the ground's capacity" by 2,700 to 32,000 and are "staggered over a number of stages." The plan stresses the importance of "maintaining the unique character of Lord's with gardens and trees." MCC Ground Working Party & Estates Committee Chair Colin Maber said, "Our key principles -- on the absolute need to retain the size of both grounds, on keeping Lord's as a ground rather than making it a stadium, on the importance of green open spaces, and on enhancing the experience for every visitor -- will underpin all we do. It is advanced work in progress, but can be flexed to reflect changing economic circumstances, technology and research" (GUARDIAN, 5/1).
KEEPING WITH TRADITION: In London, Stephen Brenkley reported the strategy "was overwhelmingly approved" at MCC’s annual meeting, and will now be put before the 18,000 members. It is "essentially a diluted version of revolutionary plans" originally submitted three years ago, which would have involved "dramatic and costly rebuilding and split the membership." Several key figures, including the former PM John Major, "fell out with the committee." The hope now is that the new strategy, "less overtly ambitious but still wide-ranging, will reunite club but still fulfil the aim of keeping Lord’s as a great ground." Both the main ground and the Nursery Ground behind it "will stay the same size" (INDEPENDENT, 5/1).
BREAKING GROUND: Also in London, Nick Hoult reported "work was expected to begin next year." The first phase of building between '14-19 "will start with the redevelopment of the Warner Stand and end with new Tavern and Allen Stands." There will be a break for the hosting of the 2019 World Cup before the final phase begins in '21 "with extension of the Nursery Ground and rebuilding of the Compton and Edrich Stands." The first phase of building, costing £90M ($140M), will be funded from the club’s coffers, with the second part boosted by "sensible levels of borrowing." Other cricket grounds in England "have incurred huge debts while rebuilding and upgrading facilities." Maber insisted that the MCC "would not make the same mistake." Maber: "We are proposing a Masterplan that can be undertaken on a low risk, self-funded basis. The phasing allows for flexibility in expenditure which ensures we will never be financially overcommitted" (TELEGRAPH, 5/1).
JUST A PHASE: Also in London, Ivo Tennant reported a future phase would include the construction of a “food street,” demolishing and repositioning the ECB’s offices, building a new banqueting suite and restructuring the Compton and Edrich Stands, "which have impaired views from some seats." This would cost £23M ($36M). Other proposals would be "to extend the grade II listed Victorian pavilion on both sides, to double the size of the museum and library, to create a new, fourth entrance to the ground and to insert railings into sections of the wall" running along Wellington Road. There "will be an emphasis on al fresco dining, new hospitality boxes and more facilities looking out on to the main square" (LONDON TIMES, 5/1).