After several delays, and years of holding on, female cricket fans finally have a wee win.
The newly refurbished toilets at both ends of the embankment at the Basin Reserve – which hosted the White Ferns v Australia World Cup game on Sunday – are finally open.
The new toilets, which sees an increase of capacity by 200 per cent for female fans on the embankment, were due to be completed by February, but the opening was delayed by Covid.
The new toilets follow the refurbishment of the Museum Stand, and changing rooms.
* Cricket World Cup: Boosted Basin capacity of 1500 for big White Ferns clash against Australia
* Countdown on for Women’s Cricket World Cup as tickets released to public
* Basin Reserve unclogs the bogs for female fans by increasing capacity 200 per cent
* Government announces $1.71m upgrade of Eden Park changing rooms ahead of women’s world cups
The government has invested more than $10 million into upgrading major sporting venues in time for the cricket, rugby and football world cups, being hosted in New Zealand in the next 18 months.
Cricket Wellington chief executive Cam Mitchell said he’s “delighted” the toilets have been opened in time for the Cricket World Cup.
“There’s been a big improvement, and it’s long overdue,” he said.
“We want to be a modern, inclusive venue, and with the demographics of the crowd changing, to have facilities that reflect that is an important step forward.”
Amongst the crowd was Celia Voysey and her eight-year-old daughter Charlie. It was Charlie’s very first visit to the Basin Reserve to cheer on the White Ferns. They were pleasantly surprised by the new toilet facilities, that didn’t have any queues.
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s an amazing facility with lots of room in there,” Celia said.
“This is an amazing celebration of women’s sport, it’s so cool seeing small things like toilet facilities, seeing female police here today, lots of officials are women, but it’s just cool seeing people of all different types celebrating women’s sport.”
“It melts really good, and they are very clean,” Charlie added.
Voysey said it’s so pleasing to see so many children at the Basin “getting excited” about women’s cricket, “and they don’t have to wait for the loo”.
Cricket World Cup chief executive Andrea Nelson said the upgrades to the facilities is a legacy the competition wants to leave behind.
“For me, personally… there’s nothing light a signal to say you don’t belong somewhere in not being able to use changing facilities, and if you’re going to try to create equity in the game, having facilities that welcome everybody is really important,” she said.
“When I first started, I spoke to athletes, and it was a consistent theme that came over and over again. I’m so proud and delighted that Sport New Zealand have invested in the facilities. The players have been using them, the feedback’s been great.
It’s the sort of thing that you can look at and say ‘of course that should have happened’, but someone had to start, and we’re really grateful Sport NZ did.”
Minister for Sport Grant Robertson was at the game, and said investing in toilets and changing rooms is “a basic sense of fairness”.
“I don’t think it would surprise you to hear me say that it was well passed the time when it needed to happen,” he said.
“But sometimes these pinnacle events are the things that allow you to push on in terms of getting the money, but I’m mostly pleased that it’s here as a legacy.”
He said there is still more to do in preparation for the Rugby and Football World Cups, but for now all eyes are on the Cricket World Cup.
“It’s really important to show that we can, in a Covid era, host a tournament. This has not been easy putting this tournament on. I think as a country, we can host major events and put our values down on the table when we do that. That’s why we chase these women’s world cups. That’s my priority as minister,” he said.
“The massive inspiration, and it’s not just young girls [in the crowd], there’s a lot of boys out there watching it. It’s something that’s right across the community. It’s very cool.”
Meanwhile, police said three men involved in an anti-mandate protest near the Basin Reserve were arrested for disorderly behavior at about 12.30pm on Sunday.
“Two of the men, aged 23 and 50, were formally warned for their actions,” a police spokesperson said. “A 48-year-old has been summoned to appear in the Wellington District Court on March 28.”
A small group of about a dozen protesters had gathered outside the northern entrance of the Basin Reserve. one told stuff they had stayed on from the occupation at Parliament and chose the Basin as they knew there would be a crowd there for the cricket.
The protesters had dispersed by about 1.15pm.