Cricket Ireland hope that the prospect of co-hosting the 2030 T20 World Cup will accelerate their plans to build a dedicated cricket stadium.
The sport’s organising body has been in talks with the Irish Government about developing a permanent playing facility since 2018. Its location would be at the National Sport Campus in Abbotstown.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom outlined his belief that the case for the necessity of such a stadium has only been strengthened by the prospect of co-hosting the World Cup along with England and Scotland.
“We will be working extremely closely with the Irish Government to ensure that our vision to have a proper national stadium for cricket is going to be in place well before that 2030 event comes around.
“In 2018 we were able to host in the region of 25-30,000 fans at our matches just in Dublin at Malahide (a non-permanent stadium) that year alone, which we think is a pretty decent argument when it comes to economic impact.
“Notwithstanding the fact that the worldwide global television audience would be larger than any event ever previously staged in Ireland – be it sporting, cultural, a Pope’s visit etc – a velodrome and a badminton centre are also being developed at the National Sport Campus, and we feel that for a country that is a major nation among the world’s second largest sport, there is now a significant compelling case. If there wasn’t there beforehand, there certainly is now.
Deutrom is referring to the plans for a new velodrome and badminton centre that were confirmed by the National Development Plan 2021-2030 (NDP) published last month by the Government. The NDP goes on to reference “other projects being identified under the recently completed Campus Masterplan”. Neither the NDP nor the campus masterplan mentioned within it make an explicit reference to a potential cricket stadium, nor to any other facility that may be included in these “other projects”.
Despite cricket not featuring, Cricket Ireland say it has been consulted regularly on a potential stadium design and remains very confident of being included in the final campus masterplan which will be published on an undisclosed future date.
Although the Government is supportive of Cricket Ireland’s stadium wishes and the new timeline, it cannot yet confirm that anything will be built before the 2030 tournament.
Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers TD gave an update on the Government's position.
“Ultimately, the ambition of constructing an oval at the National Sports Campus remains, but hosting [World Cup] matches is not dependent on that, and Test matches have been hosted here before in Malahide.
“But I would be hopeful we will have substantially advanced the oval by 2030 and laying down the surface, which takes a number of years to settle, would be the first step.”
One other issue that will need to be ironed out before any future World Cup is that of training facilities that are available to visiting teams. How often such facilities can be provided has come under scrutiny, especially since turf wickets laid at the high-performance centre in 2019 are still unusable.
The issue of providing facilities was upgraded to a ‘critical priority’ by the Cricket Ireland board last month.
Deutrom confirmed that Cricket Ireland has made assurances to the International Cricket Council regarding the quality of training facilities for visiting teams,
“There is a lot of headroom for time for permanent facilities to be developed” he said. “In any case, what we said was in the slim scenario that that doesn’t take place, we’ve still been able to demonstrate that we can host world-class fixtures in a successful fashion even if it was just with modular facilities, ie temporary green-field sites.
“I can tell you though that that is absolutely not our intention [for 2030].”