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NCE Top 10: World's best cricket stadium redevelopments

To celebrate the start of the Ashes series between England and Australia at Britain’s newest Test venue, the rebuilt Swalec stadium, NCE picks out the Top 10 cricket stadium redevelopments from around the world.


Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

10. Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

10. Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

The Ashes series begins on Wednesday at Cardiff’s Swalec Stadium, Britain’s newest Test venue.

Efforts to bring Test Match cricket to Wales began in March 2008, when Glamorgan Cricket Club announced a 10 year sponsorship deal with Swalec.

Worth £1.5M over 10 years, the deal provided the impetus for a £9.4M redevelopment of the old Sophia Gardens stadium.

Construction began in April 2007 and the redeveloped stadium was first opened for competitive matches on 9 May 2008.

“Construction for a £9.4M redevelopment of the old Sophia Gardens stadium began in April 2007.”

Then, the Glamorgan Dragons took on the Gloucestershire Gladiators in a Friends Provident Trophy match, with the hosts winning by six wickets.

It has not been plain sailing since then, however, with the poor state of the wicket earning the club a points deduction in May. An over-active drainage system, coupled with the effects of a flood amelioration scheme on the nearby River Taff, meant that the water table had dropped, drying out the pitch.

The wicket is expected to take plenty of spin in today’s Test match.



The Brit Oval, London

Amidst one of the biggest cricket seasons England has ever seen, the Brit Oval has received the go ahead to build a new stand and hotel at the iconic ground, further cementing its place as one of the game’s great venues.

It has been a long wait for the decision: after the London Borough of Lambeth, supported by the Greater London Authority, resolved to grant planning permission in January 2008 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) asked for the plans to go to public inquiry over concerns that the development was too close to the nearby Kennington Gasholder Station.

Approval was granted, and the £35M plans can get underway: the new 2,000-seat stand will increase the capacity of the Oval to 25,000.

“Approval was granted, and the £35M plans can get underway: the new 2,000-seat stand will increase the capacity of the Oval to 25,000.”

The stand – and hotel − has been designed by HOK. It features an upper tier of seating covering the plan area of the wing adjacent to the pitch, and is shaded by a cantilevering canopy in steel and timber with a standing seam roof.

HOK has a long-standing involvement with the Oval, after providing the concept design for the last ground redevelopment which opened in time for the last Ashes series in 2005. Miller Partnership did detailed design.

The £23M project saw existing stands at the Vauxhall End demolished and replaced with a stand over four levels and with a main curved roof and open air terraces. It increased ground capacity from 18,500 to 23,000.


Dubai Sports City, UAE

The new 25,000-seater cricket stadium at Dubai’s Sports City is among the most advanced of its kind, with next-generation facilities for players officials, VIPs, spectators and the media.

The bowl design brings the spectators closer than ever to the action. The design of the cricket stadium meets all ICC specifications for hosting international cricket fixtures.

The stadium, which opened in early 2009, is lit by more than 350 floodlights running along the rim of the roof of the stadium, creating the illusion of a ‘ring of fire’ when lighting the field of play.

The design replicates natural light and facilitates good visibility for players at any time of the day by preventing shadows from being cast on the field.

“The stadium is lit by more than 350 floodlights, creating a ‘ring of fire’.”

The stadium’s opening game in April saw Pakistan provide an outstanding display of international cricket in front of a passionate crowd.

The hosts took an early lead in the series with a four wicket win over Australia in front of 17,486 spectators.

“The stadium looked fantastic and the main thing was that we had a lot of local supporters,” said victorious Pakistan captain Younus Khan. “We have really been looking forward to playing here, and I believe it is good for us, and good for Dubai.”

Australian captain Michael Clarke said: “The facilities have been fantastic, I would say as good as anywhere in the world.”



Pune International Cricket Centre, India

The Pune International Cricket Centre will be a 55,000-seater stadium, playing host to key cricket matches during the 2011 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by India and Sri Lanka.

The state-of-the-art stadium will be designed as an amphitheatre to afford spectators maximum visibility, and will also include a swimming pool.

Consultant Buro Happold is project managing construction of the Hopkins-designed structure. Structural engineer on the project is Adams Kara Taylor.

“The state-of-the-art stadium will be designed as an amphitheatre to afford spectators maximum visibility.”

The sloping site enjoys superb panoramic views. Rebalancing ground levels results in a bowl of terraced seating for spectators, with four stands sitting over this terrace accessed via wide pedestrian concourses.

Gaps between the stands not only provide views to the horizon but allow airflow and daylight. Upper levels include further seating for spectators, a members’ pavilion, hospitality boxes, and facilities for broadcasting and press.

With cricket played November-May, the sun is often low. Membrane roofs provide shade and, together with the elegantly braced structure of the steel and concrete stands in this seismic zone, create a memorable form for the stadium.


DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai, India

Completed last year, this splendid ground was designed by prominent Indian architect Hafeez Contractor.

The three-storey stadium has a seating capacity of 60,000, making it the 156th biggest sports stadium in the world.

The pavilion end has a stand either side of the scoreboard.

There is a cantilevered gull wing roof to give it a dramatic flourish − and to ensure no spectator has a restricted view.

“For the pitch 200 tons of soil was imported from South Africa.”

For the pitch 200 tons of soil was imported from South Africa.

The stadium saw Adam Gilchrist hit a century in 42 balls in the 2008 Indian Premier League.



MCG, Melbourne, Australia

The Melbourne Cricket Ground is a classic in stadium design. Host to the first ever Test match, it is now home to a capacity 100,000 crowd.

The first grandstand at the MCG was the original wooden members’ stand built in 1854, while the first public grandstand was a 200m long, 6,000 seat temporary structure built in 1861.

In 1881 the original members’ stand was sold to the Richmond Cricket Club for £55. A new brick stand, considered at the time to be the world’s finest cricket facility, was built in its place.

The Northern (Olympic) Stand replaced the old Grandstand for the 1956 Olympic Games and ten years later the Grey Smith Stand and the open concrete stand next to it were replaced by the Western (now Ponsford) Stand. On 3 March 1967 the Duke of Edinburgh laid a foundation stone for a new Western Stand, which was completed in 1968.

“The redevelopment cost exceeded AUD$400 million and took capacity over the 100,000 mark.”

In 1988 inspections of the old Southern Stand found concrete cancer and provided the opportunity to replace the increasingly run-down 50-year-old facility.

The projected cost of $100M was outside what the Melbourne Cricket Club could afford so the Victorian Football League took the opportunity to part fund the project in return for a 30-year deal to share the ground. The new Great Southern Stand was completed in 1992 at a final cost of $150M.

The 1928 Members’ stand, as well as the 1956 Olympic stand and the 1968 Ponsford stand were demolished in late 2002. They were replaced with a new structure in time for Melbourne to host the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Despite now standing as a single unbroken stand, the individual sections retain the names of Ponsford, Olympic and Members Stands. The redevelopment cost exceeded AUD$400 million and pushed the ground’s capacity over the 100,000 mark. Since redevelopment, the highest attendance was the 2008 Aussie Rules Grand Final with 100,012.


Kensington Oval, Barbados

Another top international venue, Arup’s Kensington Oval has all the ingredients of the modern hi-tech cricket ground: long cantilever roofs, louvres, gills and diffuse lighting devices.

Largely rebuilt to host the 2007 World Cup Final, its striking Worrell, Weekes and Walcott Stand provides column-free views of the action in a structure designed to withstand hurricane winds, heavy rainfall and tropical temperatures.

Arup’s architectural and engineering design helped create its spectacular new stands, players’ pavilion and media centre.

The Worrell, Weekes and Walcott Stand is clad in dramatic double curved aluminium panels finished in ‘cricketing whites’ cream. Large vents in the cantilevered roof shade spectators and allow good airflow and natural light.

‘We have tried to view sustainability in its broadest terms. That doesn’t just mean environmental responsibility, but considering matters of lasting social and economic value. That will be the true legacy of hosting the World Cup,” says Arup Associates lead architect Dipesh Patel.

“The redeveloped ground will help inject new life into the capital of Barbados.”

A 16,000-seat temporary stand erected for the World Cup boosted capacity to 27,000 for the tournament.

It will later be removed to reveal a grassy spectators’ hill and pool, providing what Patel describes as “an echo of the coastal landscape of Barbados”.

The redeveloped ground will help inject new life into Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. The architectural team has opened up land around the ground and is encouraging better pedestrian links with the cruise ship terminal to the west.

Of course, like the Swalec Stadium, things have not been plain sailing since the world cup, with this Winter’s second Test between the West Indies and England having to be abandoned minutes after starting when the pitch started to fall apart. Much work is now being done to repair the damage.



Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

With nearby Devils Peak and Table Mountain for neighbours, it’s unsurprising that Newlands’ dramatic setting has earned it the title of most beautiful cricket ground in the world.

Unfortunately the low-rise stadium recently gave way to modernity and had sections of its grass embankment replaced by stands, bumping up its seating capacity to 25,000.

The return of South Africa to the international arena in the 1990s meant that the capacity and standards of the facilities at Newlands were totally inadequate to meet modern demands, and so began the redevelopment of the ground in 1991.

Between then and now, Newlands has been totally revamped, at a cost of approximately R85 million, almost all of which was raised before construction commenced by the leasing of suites and the sale of some 3,500 debenture seats in the public stands and the four corporate clubs.

“Newlands has been totally revamped, at a cost of approximately R85 million.”

Apart from some chalets on the Railway side of the ground which are due for demolition in a few year’s time, nothing at all remains of Newlands as it was four years ago.

The last phase of the development, completed shortly before the Test against India in January 1997, saw the erection of an uncovered 2,600-seater Railway Stand to replace the old wooden benches of the Planes and Willows enclosures.

Whilst many people feel that the construction of new stands has detracted from the beauty of the stadium, Newlands is undoubtedly still one of the most picturesque places in the world to watch cricket.


The Rose Bowl, Southampton

Hampshire County Cricket Club’s Rose Bowl is another iconic state-of-the-art cricket ground from Sir Michael Hopkins.

Home to Hampshire Cricket since its construction in 2000, the ground has developed quickly into one of the leading venues in the country.

Just under 10,000 seats in the perfect bowl provide unobstructed viewing for every spectator and the only permanent ‘world-class’ floodlights in the country allow the entertainment to continue after dark. The Rose Bowl has already staged a number of high-profile international cricket matches and the flexible format of the ground means that the capacity for these games expands to 20,000.

“In 2006, The Rose Bowl announced a £45M development plan to turn the ground into one of the best cricket and entertainment venues in the world.”

Although cricket is at the heart of The Rose Bowl, the ground is well established as a major concert venue. Some of the world’s greatest artists have performed in front of sell-out crowds, including Oasis, Blue, Billy Joel and The Who. 

However, there is more to come. In 2006, The Rose Bowl was awarded Test Match status by the ECB and at the same time announced a £45M development plan to turn the ground into one of the best cricket and entertainment venues in the world.

In May 2008 the Government Office South East (GOSE) ratified the plans that will see two new stands built alongside the landmark pavilion and the construction of a 175 bedroom resort hotel built overlooking the playing area.

With the addition of the two new stands capacity will increase from 20,000 to 25,000, making it one of the largest grounds in the country. The number of permanent seats will increase to 15,000, including 6,000 seats under cover. The plans also include a new access road to further reduce the traffic impact on the local community. 



Lord’s, London, England

As well as Victorian architect Thomas Verity’s Pavilion, which still stands, completed in 1890, the list of architects and engineers who have made additions to ‘The Home of Cricket’ is a who’s who of the significant hi-tech designers of the late twentieth century.

Most famous is the Lord’s Media Centre, which won Jan Kaplicky and Amanda Levete’s Future Systems the Stirling Prize in 1999.

The bulbous form is supported above the ground by two lift shafts and its glazed facade give journalists and commentators an uninterrupted view of the ground. The curved structure was fabricated using boat-building technology and was the first all aluminium, semi-monocoque building in the world.

Adjacent to this is Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners Grandstand, completed in 1996. The stand is a three tier post-tensioned structure with capacity for 6,200 spectators.

Completing the high-tech group, Hopkins and Partners designed Lord’s Mound Stand, an intervention that retained the original Victorian arcade on the ground’s exterior while building a new steel superstructure topped off with an exuberant fabric canopy of PVC-coated polyester fabric.

“There are bold plans to increase capacity from 28,500 to 40,000 by replacing five stands.”

Less public, but an important project nevertheless, is David Morley Architects’ Indoor Cricket School on the same site. It was the first indoor facility to utilise natural light for the playing area.

But the Marylebone Circket Club is not finished, with bold plans to increase capacity from 28,500 to 40,000 by replacing five stands in a mammoth £400M plus building spree.

Outline plans for the five new stands indicate that they are to be designed in unique tiers, with each section resembling a lectern that juts out at an oblique angle. The cherished treeline at the Nursery End will be clearly visible from the pavilion and the size of the stands, which will rise above the media centre in keeping with the height of the Grand Stand, will enable the capacity to be extended to 40,000 if planning permission is granted.

Herzog & de Meuron has been selected as Masterplan architects. Its work includes the Allianz Arena, home to Bayern Munich FC, and the Beijing National Stadium or ‘The Birds Nest’, the main stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Readers' comments (2)

  • A good selection of cricket grounds with innovative structures, all excellent examples of structural engineering in their own right.

    To identify an erratum in the final paragraph of the article on Kensington Oval: The unfortunate events of the second test of the 2009 test series between England and the West Indies occurred at a different cricket ground. Kensington Oval actually hosted the drawn fourth test (England 600-6 dec and 279-2; WI 749-9 dec).

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  • I am personally interested to know if Eden Gardens were considered and where did it rank.

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