Cricket: Surrey's plan for pounds 32m facelift

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The Independent Online

Plans for a pounds 32m facelift for The Oval, which would turn it into the largest cricket stadium in the Northern hemisphere, were unveiled yesterday.

Surrey County Club, who hope to raise half the amount needed from the National Lottery fund, say it would take them seven years to clear the rest of the debt.

Most of the redevelopment of the ground would take place at the Vauxhall Road end, where a new stand and terracing would house nearly 17,000 spectators as well as a concourse mall and community facilities. The improvements would extend the capacity of the ground from the present 15,400 up to 32,000, which is 4,000 more than at Lord's.

Apart from the Lottery money, Surrey would raise funds from commercial and private loans. Additionally, under the Test and County Board's seat retention scheme, all the income from the new seating would be kept by The Oval until the project has been paid for.

Surrey claim that pounds 1.2m a year in revenue is being lost with around 10,000 spectators being turned away at The Oval for one-day internationals and Tests.

Surrey have already invested pounds 14m in redeveloping the Pavilion, Laker and Bedser stands. They will apply for planning permission today and aim to start building in September next year. They hope to finish in time for the 1999 World Cup.

Glyn Woodman, the county's chief executive, said: "If we cannot develop the ground, then I believe that in the medium term Surrey would have to leave here and move to another ground."