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Cricket grounds seek revamp in Test Match war

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INCREASING COMPETITION among British cricket grounds to host lucrative Test Matches has led to a drive to redevelop grounds across the country.

Old Trafford, Lancashire County Cricket Club's home ground, this week confirmed it plans to carry out a £190M upgrade of the 150-year-old facilities.

The move comes a week after Edgbaston cricket ground, home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club, announced it is to spend £21M revamping the ground to include a new pavilion and residential housing, increasing capacity to 25,000.

Chief executive of Old Trafford Jim Cumbes said: 'All we can say at the moment is that we are planning to do something that involves residential, retail and the cricket ground itself.' However, Cumbes is hopeful that work will be underway by 2008 and completed by 2010.

Other grounds undergoing facelifts include Southampton's Rose Bowl where plans for a £35M upgrade are awaiting planning approval and Cardiff's Sophia Gardens where work is well underway on its 15,000-seat stadium.

A spokesman for Warwickshire County Cricket Club told NCE: 'The staging of international matches at Edgbaston generates in excess of £10M per annum for the local economy and the venue is also the epicentre of cricket in the Midlands.

'In recent years, Warwickshire County Cricket Club has been mindful of other developments within the cricket world.

The emergence of smaller county grounds bidding for the right to stage international cricket has forced more established venues, such as The Oval and Headingley, to undertake extensive ground development and refurbishment in order to extend their staging agreements with the England & Wales Cricket Board.

'Edgbaston's current staging agreement expires in 2010 and the development plan aims to ensure that Edgbaston further enhances its reputation as one of the premier venues in world cricket.' Jon Young

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