Cricket: Future begins to take shape at Lord's

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The Independent Online
Construction work on an impressive replacement for the Grand Stand and a futuristic media centre has reduced Lord's, the spiritual home of cricket, to a building site once again.

The projects will complete the current phase of development, as Jon Culley discovered.

The approach of the 21st century has reduced Lord's, the 210-year-old spiritual home of cricket, to the status of a building site.

With the simultaneous construction of a futuristic media centre and of a replacement for the old Grand Stand - opposite the Mound Stand - the ground has, not for the first time, been taken over by diggers, trucks and cranes, many of which will remain on the premises for much of the next 12 months.

The framework of the new structure's second tier is visible now, advancing the pounds 13.5m project towards completion by next June's Test match against South Africa. At more than double the cost of the impressive Mound, which was opened for the Bicentenary celebrations 10 years ago, the stand will house 6,500 spectators, adding 2,000 to the venue's overall capacity. It will, in time, benefit from a roof.

The media centre, early illustrations of which resembled to some a spaceship and to others a giant metal gherkin, will appear piece by piece at the Nursery End during the course of next summer.

The first building in the world, it is believed, to be made largely of aluminium, the pounds 4m capsule is being assembled in a shipyard in Falmouth and will arrive at Lord's in sections, transported by lorry. Once complete - in time for the 1999 World Cup - it will provide a vantage point for 240 broadcasters and journalists, compared with the 100 who can be accommodated in the existing press box. The NatWest bank is giving pounds 2.6m towards the new centre, which will bear its name.

An MCC spokesman, Chris Rea, said: "After the ECB [England Cricket Board] offices, the indoor school and the new shop, these projects will complete the current phase of development.

"We've got construction vehicles taking up much of the nursery and part of the outfield. It will be a relief when the place is finally cleared up."