How we did it ... Cricket club consults in run-up to improvements

Project Consultation ahead of a strategic masterplan for Lord's cricket ground.

Lord's: proposal for increased capacity
Lord's: proposal for increased capacity

Background With its iconic status, the ground is developing a vision for the next century in the face of stiff competition from other venues.

Who Is Behind It? Marylebone Cricket Club.

Project aims To discover the views of members and stakeholders on possible improvements to the ground.

Skills Involved Consultation, community engagement, economic development, masterplanning.

Consultation exercises are bread and butter these days but not often do they concern one of the most iconic sporting venues in the country.

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) launched the biggest survey in its 220-year history last week as part of a consultation before a strategic masterplan for the next 100 years of Lord's cricket ground. Around 22,000 full and associate members are being sent a questionnaire to seek their opinions on a range of improvements. These will be backed up by a six special meetings around the UK.

The consultation includes a bewildering range of interested parties - neighbours, local amenity societies, Westminster City Council, ticket buyers and sponsors. The cricket media, in the form of broadcasters, writers and photographers, will also be asked for its views.

"We need to know our members' priorities and preferences before we can develop the right masterplan," says MCC deputy chief executive David Butts. "Once we have heard from them, we want to listen to our other stakeholders. It is important that we consult as widely as possible to ensure that the future of Lord's can be as distinguished as its past."

Lord's is a huge asset to the London economy. Research carried out by the consultancy London Economics, based on the England v West Indies test match in May, found that its local economic impact was between £9.5 million and £10.8 million, supporting the equivalent of around 150 full-time jobs. The local economic impact of major matches at Lord's is £26.6 million to £30.2 million a year and their London-wide impact is £25 million to £29.5 million.

The consultancy estimated that increasing the ground's capacity by 5,000 would boost the matches' annual local economic impact by up to £3.8 million. However, it added that if Lord's were to lose any of its major match days, the adverse economic impact on the local area would be up to £2.1 million a day.

This is a major driver behind the consultation, particularly because the ground faces intense competition from new venues. For instance, Hampshire's Rose Bowl was awarded test match status last year and Cardiff will host an Ashes test in 2009.

The members' questionnaire, drafted by an MCC working party, sets out several potential improvements, not least increasing capacity from 28,500 to between 35,000 and 40,000. Other proposals include:

- A purpose-built museum to house the MCC's collection of cricket art and memorabilia.

- The development of an indoor school and cricket academy with an analysis suite, gymnasium, sports injury clinic and treatment rooms.

- A further real tennis court to enable Lord's to host top-class international competitions.

- Installing retractable floodlights.

The working party adds that there should be no reduction in the size of either of the two pitches at Lord's, the main and nursery grounds. It also envisages that the ground's picnic gardens, which are hugely popular on major match days, should be retained and if possible enlarged.

The MCC says it plans to appoint architects "who can demonstrate a real appreciation of the heritage of Lord's, a proper understanding of its worldwide reputation as the home of cricket and full recognition of the need to work within the Westminster and London planning frameworks". It aims to fund the improvements through debenture seat income, borrowing and some residential development on the ground's edges, subject to planning consent.


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