The England & Wales Cricket Board is "looking to road-test" its drop-in 2019 Cricket World Cup pitches "as soon as possible amid growing global concern that such surfaces make for dull spectacles," according to Richard Gibson of the London DAILY MAIL. Plans are reportedly being made to "temporarily move three to the London Stadium in an experiment designed to see how they respond to transportation." A drop-in pitch has never been used for int'l cricket in England but the chance to host two matches at the 60,000-capacity ex-Olympic arena next summer -- "potentially a day-nighter on a Friday followed by a day game 36 hours later on a Sunday" -- led to the "purchase, cultivation and storage of three at the ECB's Loughborough academy base." One of the caveats for their use is that the World Cup organizing committee -- comprised of members of the host country's board plus those from the Int'l Cricket Council -- "must be satisfied by the performance quality of the strips." One of the challenges the committee faces is that EPL side West Ham United is a tenant of the ground and that means the pitches "cannot be dropped into the middle before mid-May" (DAILY MAIL, 1/18).
West Ham is "willing to increase" the £2.5M ($3.5M)-per-year rent it pays to play at the London Stadium, but only if it is "handed increased rights and greater control," according to Alex Miller of the London DAILY MAIL. Club officials have signaled "a willingness to listen to proposals" from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who "took full control of the ground following a report by forensic accountants" exposing how the costs had "spiralled out of control." Club Vice-Chair Karren Brady "is eager to sit down with Khan," but a meeting has not yet been confirmed. While West Ham would reportedly be prepared to increase its rent, there are serious issues to resolve, as club execs believe they "are not seeing the rights in their existing contract delivered." Key to negotiations "is the current stalemate over capacity at the stadium," with West Ham insisting its contract entitles it to use all 60,000 seats, rather than the 57,000 it uses currently -- "with legal action already under way." West Ham would reportedly "be willing to discuss an increase in rent once the stadium capacity issue has been resolved -- and if the club was handed additional stadium control and commercial rights." These "could include the right to sell more advertising hoardings around the pitch," greater control of stadium operations and the opportunity to sell the stadium naming rights, which have not been secured. It is understood club officials "were knocked back when they previously offered to help secure a stadium-naming partner" (DAILY MAIL, 1/20).
Amadeus secured a catering contract with Stratford-on-Avon Racecourse worth £2.5M ($3.5M). The five-year deal will see Amadeus "run all retail and hospitality catering at fixture race events along with providing conference and banqueting catering at the venue taking place on non-race days." Amadeus' growing portfolio includes catering for 7 million visitors a year as part of the NEC Group and more than 30 venues across the U.K. (MEETPIE, 1/19).
Welsh Premier League club Bangor City denied canceling "all use of its home ground." But the club said that its 3G training pitch, next to the main Nantporth Stadium, is closed. However, the artificial training pitch "is controlled by community interest company Nantporth CIC," which sublets the main Nantporth Stadium to Bangor (BBC, 1/19).
Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association Secretary Brian McAvoy "is worried the absence of ministers in Northern Ireland could further delay the Casement Park project." A "fresh planning application for the redevelopment was lodged" last February after "initial approval for the scheme was quashed" by the High Court in '14. A decision on the new application "is expected at some stage this year." McAvoy said that any further details caused by "political inactivity would be most unfortunate and even ironic" (BBC, 1/19).