Hampshire handed pounds 7.1m grant

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The Independent Online
Hampshire are celebrating the award of a pounds 7.1m grant from the National Lottery to part-fund their move to a new ground.

The county plan to build a pounds 16m, 10,000-seat capacity stadium on land near the M27 at West End, Southampton, with first-class cricket to be staged from 2001.

The award is the first of its kind from lottery funds and has been agreed because the cricket club's plans were based around providing a community stadium on land bought from Queen's College, Oxford. Hampshire must raise the rest of the money themselves, with around pounds 3.5m coming from the sale of their current home in Northlands Road and the rest made up from fund- raising and donations.

Tony Baker, their chief executive, said: "We hope to be able to play on the ground by the year 2000, although it is unlikely we will be able to use it for a first-class match until 2001.

"We must raise pounds 9m ourselves to match the lottery grant and we anticipate raising around pounds 3.5m from the sale of the county ground to help us on our way."

The scheme includes facilities for a self-contained nursery ground for Second XI cricket, a cricket academy for young players, gymnasium, a nine- hole golf course, indoor and outdoor bowls, an all-weather sports pitch and parking for 3,000 cars.

The Hampshire chairman, Brian Ford, said: "The development of a new ground will be of tremendous importance for the future of the club."