Angus Fraser: Lord's must resist temptation to mortgage its heritage

Plans to redevelop the ground are exciting but there are fears the debt could compromise the MCC's position

That Chelsea are considering selling the naming rights to Stamford Bridge will surprise few people. There seems very little that football clubs will not flog as they try to pay off debt or raise funds for new players.

Lord's Cricket Ground, however, and the Marylebone Cricket Club, which owns the world's most famous venue, is a completely different animal. Lord's is not known as the home of the sport because it's prepared to sell its soul to the highest bidder. It has its reputation because it's an arena where everyone who enters – player or spectator – feels a sense of tradition and history. Even now, 30 years after first entering the ground, I feel privileged when I drive through the Grace Gates or walk through the Long Room. Renaming such areas of the ground, which would be inevitable should rights be sold, would cheapen the experience. Looking at the dressing-room honours boards that represent those who have scored hundreds or taken five-wicket hauls at the ground, would become like reading the menu at a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.

It was therefore reassuring to hear Keith Bradshaw, the MCC chief executive, refute suggestions that his organisation would sell the naming rights to Lord's and its stands to help fund a £400m redevelopment.

Lord's is magnificent but certain stands need replacing if it's to remain one of the world's most iconic venues. The Tavern and Warner stands have had their time and the Compton and Edrich stands sit too few people, many of whom have an unsatisfactory view.

And this is why the MCC is considering a complete redevelopment. As an employee of Middlesex CCC, who are excited by and supportive of the venture, I have been fortunate to see the plans and they are spectacular. The new stands will be covered, lectern-style podiums that will give a fragmented effect. They will look stunning and raise the capacity from 29,493 to just under 37,000.

Those who love Lord's as it is will fear its unique feel will disappear. On this front the MCC and its architects have to be trusted. All the building that has taken place in the past 25 years has improved the ground. The redevelopment of the Mound Stand and Grandstand were huge successes, as was the Media Centre. The MCC knows it cannot turn this oasis into a concrete jungle.

Many hurdles have to be overcome before the first sod is dug. Planning permission for five apartment blocks at the Nursery End has to be granted and huge funds need to be raised. And it is the fear that such investment will change the outlook of the MCC that concerns me most. The MCC is the official guardian of the Laws of Cricket and unofficial but welcome holder of its conscience. Independently it can take the stance that is of greatest benefit to the image and future of the game. Taking on such enormous debt, like too many football clubs have, could compromise its exalted, deserved and privileged position, and that would be sad for the game.

29,493

Capacity of Lord's now. It would rise to just under 37,000 should the MCC's redevelopment plans come to fruition.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz