Newcastle cricketers will take to the pitch for the first round of their district cricket season this weekend to celebrate the reopening of Newcastle’s No.1 Sportsground following its $8 million upgrade.
The players will benefit from the ground’s extensive refurbishment, which included the construction of seven turf cricket wickets, new sight screens and oval perimeter fencing.
The playing surface has also been completely rebuilt, with a new sub-soil irrigation and drainage system providing a high quality, consistent playing surface, while the increased field size achieves the minimum standard for high level AFL and cricket fixtures.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said No.1 Sportsground’s redevelopment will allow Newcastle to attract first class cricket and pre-season AFL fixtures while also benefitting those locals who utilize it regularly for grassroots and regional level sport.
“No. 1 Sportsground was designed and constructed in 1921 and was officially opened 100 years ago last month,” Cr Nelmes said.
“In that time the venue has hosted a variety of sporting and non-sporting events, including the 1931 Mayor’s Relief Fund and Newcastle Ambulance Round, in which cricket legend Don Bradman captained a female cricket team at No.1 Sportsground.
“The redevelopment delivers significantly upgraded facilities for regular users of the ground while also providing our city with a potential economic boost through the attraction of major sporting events.
“Novocastrians love their sport and the completed work at No.1 Sportsground will put us in the running to host pre-season AFL fixtures and regional Big Bash League matches right here in Newcastle.
“We’re also continuing to investigate government funding opportunities to complete the second stage of the project, which will increase the footprint of the existing grandstand with a two-storey addition at the rear of the building to provide upgraded amenities for players, officials and spectator.”
Other features of the stage one works that have been completed include a lighting upgrade to enable evening fixtures, new player dug out benches, and additional bleacher seating to almost double the seated capacity from 400 to 790.
Newcastle District Cricket Association Secretary Aaron Gray said he is excited to see cricket once again being played at the premier facility.
“Our season will commence at No.1 Sportsground with a first grade fixture on Saturday and our new SG Moore Shield under-16 boys’ Twenty20 competition on Sunday,” Mr Gray said.
“It’s a very good position for us to have the best ground back in play for this season, especially now we have swelled to 208 teams across all competitions, while the enhancement of lighting means we can play more day/night events and host female and male cricket at a quality venue.”
no. 1 Sportsground is located on the corner of Parry and Union Streets in the iconic National Park, one of Newcastle’s largest and oldest sportsgrounds and open space reserves. It boasts facilities for a range of sports including netball, AFL, cricket, rugby, football, athletics, and croquet, and caters for casual sport and play through basketball courts and parklands.
Other work recently completed within National Park includes the construction of four additional basketball courts on the former tennis court site near the corner of National Park and Parry Streets, along with playing field upgrades at No. 5 and no. 6 Sportsgrounds, which have improved the playing surface of both grounds and allowed for effective management of the flood storage capacity of National Park.