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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 November, 2003, 12:05 GMT
All change at The Oval
How the Vauxhall End will look from the Pavilion
How the Vauxhall End will look from the Pavilion
Surrey have secured the necessary 22 million to proceed with ambitious redevelopment plans at The Oval.

Capacity will be increased from 19,000 to 23,000 thanks largely to a new stand at the Vauxhall End.

A new media centre, plus conference and banqueting facilities, will also be provided.

Surrey chief executive Paul Sheldon said: "This is a gigantic milestone in the history of the club."

He confidently predicted: "The new stand will be an iconic structure not only in world cricket but also in South London.

"These new facilities are essential if The Oval is to maintain its pre-eminence as one of the world's leading Test venues."

Other improvements include new terracing at the east and west of the ground and better facilities for "extensive community use."

The Ken Barrington Cricket Centre, mainly used for coaching purposes, will also be refurbished.

Surrey has had to borrow a substantial amount of cash to fund the redevelopment.

This aerial view shows the curved Vauxhall End on the left
This aerial view shows the curved Vauxhall End on the left

Support has also come from the Duchy of Cornwall, a Sport England Lottery grant and donations.

The first workmen will be on site in February, dismantling existing structures.

Between then and July, new foundations will be laid before a two-month hiatus when temporary stands will be in place for the international fixtures.

October 2004 will see the main construction push with the new ground ready for its official opening before the 2005 summer Test against Australia.

The Oval, though it hosts a huge amount of international cricket, has long been regarded as something of a sprawling, unlovely ground.

Guardian columnist Matthew Engel was blunt about its qualities in an article written in September.

He wrote: "The Oval is as ugly as sin and set amidst even uglier architecture."

Surrey have a "staging agreement" with the England and Wales Cricket Board.

It guarantees The Oval at least one one-day international and a Test match every year until 2022.

From the outside, the ground will look very different
From the outside, the ground will look very different

But consider this: the ground has sold out on the first four days of all their Tests and for every one-day international every year since 1987.

So why are there only going to be an extra 4,000 seats?

Sparkling award-winning stands have been springing up at Lord's every few years, and The Oval has been made to feel like a distinctly poor London relative in recent times.

All that will now presumably be changed but the opportunity to build a really massive stadium has not been taken.

Surrey are certainly paying for the best. The chief architects for the project are HOK-SVE, the team behind Cardiff's admirable Millennium Stadium.

They are also involved in two proposed football stadiums - Arsenal's new Ashburton Grove ground and the new Wembley.

After decades of neglect, England's cricket arenas are beginning to get the love they deserve

Lancashire may move from creaking Old Trafford to a brand new 30,000-seater stadium in Manchester, while Edgbaston and Headingley have added new stands in recent years.

The Riverside in Chester-le-Street is a fine cricketing beacon for the north, while the newest and flashiest ground of all is Hampshire's Rose Bowl.


SURREY

SEE ALSO
Oval international future secured
14 Nov 02  |  Counties
Oval plans get go-ahead
12 Dec 01  |  Surrey
Lancs could ditch Old Trafford
04 Nov 03  |  Lancashire
Bears set for 2m facelift
25 Sep 01  |  Cricket
Headingley gets 10m refit
10 Aug 00  |  Cricket


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