The first summer of cricket under lights at the Bay Oval was a resounding success that has the Bay Oval Trust reassessing requirements for the next summer of cricket.
Bay Oval Trust general manger Kelvin Jones told Tauranga City Council Economic and Investment Committee this week, that they need more council support for the upkeep of what is a world class cricket venue.
“The last 12 months have been absolutely phenomenal, a little bit of ‘be careful what you wish for…’, and it really has been a tiger by the tail,” says Kelvin.
The international season at the Bay Oval finished last Friday, with the White Ferns beating the West Indies in a televised match.
There were 15 international matches at the Bay Oval this summer, four black cap games, seven under 19 world cup games, the two White Ferns games and two super smash games, says Kelvin.
There were 16 matches under lights.
“Those people who said we wouldn’t get any more cricket with lights, that says it all really.
“The LED lights we decided to go with no one else in the world had done it at that point. They are comfortably now the best in the country and as good as anywhere in the world. The feedback we get from broadcasting confirms that.”
The LED lights can deliver light levels of 4600 lux at the wicket when the ICC requirement is 2500 lux, says Kelvin.
The new replay screen and scoreboard is the biggest in the country for a cricket ground and the second biggest overall.
“Many pundits suggest we are the best cricket ground in the country. We are certainly not going to argue.”
During the under 19 world cup in January and February there were 3500 spectators at one of the pool matches, but the preliminary viewer ratings are far higher.
Viewership ratings from India Star Sport for the under 19 tournament are 43 per cent higher than the previous tournament in 2016.
“This is in spite of those games being on at 6.30am in India,” says Kelvin.
The Bay Oval featured in 250 articles across digital platforms, and there were 70 million views on line with the ICC and digital channels.
Rigger Stephanus Greyling installing the LED lights that have made the Bay Oval an international cricket venue. Photo: Bruce Barnard.
The return to the city is significant.
The Bay Oval Trust estimates cricketers and associates spent an extra $950,000 in the city with $605,000 being spent on accommodation for teams, officials, broadcasters and journalists.
There were 30 UK journalists in Tauranga for the Black Caps vs England one day international.
“Our priorities at first were players, we needed the players to buy into the oval – the right wicket, the right outfield, and right player facilities,” says Kelvin.
“Secondly, we worked hard to get very good media facilities, which we have done. Sky TV have a very easy venue for them to broadcast at.
“The missing link I guess, is making sure - from a spectator point of view and an operational point of view - that the oval runs well.”
The oval now wants to focus on customer experience, the off-field experience for spectators.
The list includes permanent fencing, better toilets, improved paths and landscaping for better connectivity, and a lighted paved path from the oval to Maunganui Road.
They also want more money from the city council for operational, depreciation and maintenance costs.
Tauranga City Council currently pays $120,000 towards the maintenance oval and outfield and practice wicket and event funding on an event by event basis.
Wellington’s council pays $600,000 each year for the Basin Reserve upkeep, Hamilton City Council $500,000 to maintain Seddon Park as an international venue.
Presently all maintenance and depreciation costs of the oval are the responsibility of the Bay Oval Trust.
“We are burning the candle at both ends, continuing to develop the resource, but we are under staffed from an operational point of view,” says Kelvin.
“We’re committed to driving the capital development, but it all becomes irrelevant if we can’t meet operational, depreciation and maintenance costs.”
Bay Oval currently operates with two fulltime staff and employs part time staff as required.
“We are a low cost venue, and we certainly would be the lowest cost international venue in the country.”
Councillors asked him if the trust was submitting to the Long Term Plan submissions process.