0 Surrey plan £50m redevelopment to make Oval biggest cricket ground in the country

Surrey are planning a "big, bold and ambitious" £50million redevelopment of the Kia Oval which will expand its capacity to 40,000 and make it the biggest cricket ground in the country.

The Telegraph say that Surrey will rebuild the Bedser Stand and Laker-Lock Stand, increasing capacity from the ground's current level of 25,500 in time for the 2023 Ashes Test. Once finished, the Oval will be the biggest dedicated cricket ground in the world outside India or Australia.

Work will begin after the 2019 World Cup and will put the Oval at the forefront of English cricket as the new Twenty20 league is launched.

"English cricket needs a ground that can hold 40,000-plus supporters said Richard Thompson, the Surrey chairman.

"We have shown the demand is there and we would not contemplate this project unless we were confident we can fill this ground. We want to do something that is big, bold and ambitious and we know we can deliver it and we know we can fill it."

Surrey have already held talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board and their landlord, the Duchy of Cornwall, and are confident they will not meet any significant planning issues.

The Bedser Stand houses the dressing rooms and indoor school but contains only 1,800 public seats and will be the first stand to be redeveloped.

Surrey have in recent years enjoyed unprecedented levels of ticket sales. The club have built up a huge database of 282,000 ticket buyers and over the next week or so expect to sell out home Natwest Blast Twenty20 games against Sussex and Middlesex. A capacity crowd filled the ground for Thursday's Champions Trophy clash between India and Sri Lanka.

"We are going to have the best part of half a million people coming into the ground this year," said Richard Gould, the Surrey chief executive. "Our ticket sales have been thriving over the last four or five years. This week and next week we will even sell out domestic cricket with our Twenty20 games against Kent and Middlesex, which is six weeks before those matches take place.

"The ECB are looking at places like the London Olympic Stadium because they want additional capacity. Well, we can deliver that here. When you look forward to the new Twenty20 competition this takes us to the next level. There is no other club that can do it."

The club will be debt free by 2022, when they will have paid off loans incurred for the building of the OCS Stand in 2004. The new project will be funded through more borrowing but the club will also offer the ECB the option of financing it in return for the revenue from ticket sales from the extra seats.

Surrey's 20-year staging agreement, which guarantees one Test match per year, runs out in 2022. With the Olympic Stadium a potential future cricket venue, and likely to host games at the 2019 World Cup, Surrey face competition for matches.

You can read the full article from the Daily Telegraph HERE

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