Old Trafford is coming alive

LANCASHIRE have launched a campaign to guarantee Ashes cricket on the back of their proposed £47 million development of Old Trafford, urging the public to give their support via a new website called www.oldtraffordashes.co.uk.

Details of the sports-led regeneration scheme can be accessed, and county are looking for messages of encouragement as the stakes in the contest to host international cricket continue to rise. Jim Cumbes, the chief executive, said the next few months from November would be “critical” to the future of the famous ground. “Lancashire County Cricket Club really needs cricket and sports fans throughout the North West and further afield to pledge their support for this redevelopment,” he said. “Letters of support could make all the difference, so we urge everyone to visit this website today.”

Old Trafford was omitted from the Test rosta against Australia in 2009 for only the third time in 150 years. Lancashire announced this week that plans had been submitted plans to Trafford Council for the re-development of the cricket ground and surrounds, an area covering 50 acres.

Warming to their task, Lancashire then announced that pop singer and cricket fan Lily Allen had been made an Honorary Member in an interview before she went on stage in Manchester on Nov 17. This was in recognition of her promotion of the game nationally and internationally. She was presented with a bat signed by the Lancashire players, including Andrew Flintoff, one of her great admirers. Cumbes said: “Lily’s admission over summer that she loves her cricket, particularly Test cricket, certainly increased the profile of the sport and this will hopefully lead to more people becoming involved in cricket.”

The MCC have already announced ambitious plans for a £400 million redevelopment of Lord’s which will take capacity up to 36,990 and include a vast underground facility below the Nursery Ground.

The proposals, titled the Vision for Lord’s, would be the largest redevelopment in the ground’s 195-year history, and would be funded partly by selling flats around the periphery. The MCC strenuously deny that they will be selling ground-naming rights. The new design is being overseen by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, whose works include the Tate Modern art gallery and the ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic stadium in Beijing. If Westminster City Council and MCC members approve the plans work could begin in 2011, and take 10 years to complete.

The most striking aspect of the scheme is the new underground facility, extending from disused railway tunnels, will include a new academy featuring 10 pitches that will simulate conditions overseas through use of different types of synthetic grass.

The Old Trafford proposals have been brought forward by a partnership between the club, Trafford Council, Ask Developments and Tesco with the intention of transforming the historic venue into one of the country’s premier sporting destinations.

The plans include a Tesco store, with approximately 100,000 sq ft retail sales floor space providing over 500 jobs, half of which would be guaranteed for the local long-term unemployed. The store has been earmarked for land on nearby Chester Road. The development, it was claimed, will bring investment of at least £70 million into parts of Trafford which suffer from low levels of economic activity and employment. It will generate an estimated 71,000 additional visitors to Old Trafford each year, creating a further £1 million per year additional spend in the local economy. It will include new facilities offering a host of educational and training opportunities for the local community.

Phase One of the development is already under way, with a new conference and events suite, called The Point, under construction and due for completion in July 2010. Lancashire say that the striking new designs for Phase Two by architects BDP aim to retain the heritage and history of the famous ground by enhancing the existing pavilion, as well as adding stunning new player and media facilities, conferencing, hotel facilities and an extension to the highly successful indoor Cricket School. Two new grandstands will ensure a capacity of 15,000 capable of rising to 25,000 with temporary seating. There will also be floodlights and a screen showing action replays.

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