Published: 9th October, 2019
Surrey Chief Executive Richard Gould believes the Club’s plans to redevelop The Kia Oval are essential to meet the public’s demand for cricket.
After a 2019 season which saw five Cricket World Cup fixtures and an Ashes Test match all sold out, as well as six of the seven Vitality Blast fixtures, the first stage of redevelopment has begun. The Lock Laker Stand, which sits beside the Micky Stewart Members’ Pavilion, will be replaced by a new stand upgrading the Members’ and hospitality areas as well as boosting the capacity of the ground.
With more plans in the pipeline to keep The Kia Oval at the forefront of the game, Gould has promised that the changes will benefit everyone in the game.
Speaking in a long interview with journalist Adam Collins, he said: “It’ll happen gradually, sensibly and within our means. You saw how many sold out games we had this year so we need that extra capacity. Thereafter we’ll sell those tickets and move on to the next areas. It’s the Bedser Stand that we’re looking at next, we’ve also done some feasibility work on the OCS in terms of extending those balconies. It’s not just us that needs that extra capacity it’s English cricket.
“When demand outstrips supply so much as we saw this year, it’s our responsibility to make sure we deliver on this. That’s where we have to work with the ECB to get them to understand the capital requirements of funding these types of projects.
“The RFU has Twickenham, The FA has Wembley and they understand the financial obligations to build those facilities and maintain them. That’s what we need to make sure the ECB understand so that we remain a viable financial proposition in the long term.”
In terms of ensuring those numbers continue to grow and the game captures the imagination of the country, Gould wants to ensure Surrey are attracting all demographics through the famous Hobbs Gates and into The Kia Oval.
He said: “It’s so important. The World Cup showed the way. The people that came for the World Cup were incredible and the issue is that we want them to come back to support Surrey and England. I genuinely think we are making good progress on that when you look at the age groups that are coming to our cricket. Test matches are generally the older generation but T20s are a completely different vibe with so many women and children.
“We need to make sure that we can bring in Asian supporters but the difficulty there is the availability of Indian players. Unfortunately, because of the commercial value of the IPL the BCCI are going to always retain their high value assets which are their players. We’ve seen it in the past when we had a charity game with MS Dhoni and that’s when we were properly able to engage the Indian fraternity.”
2020 Memberships are now available at The Kia Oval with a range of benefits including access to Surrey home matches, priority for international tickets and invitations to Members’ only events.