County aiming to start on the road

Redditch Advertiser: CRACKING ON: Demolition work starts at New Road in preparation for the 120-bedroom Premier Inn hotel as well as new offices and conferencing facilities. CRACKING ON: Demolition work starts at New Road in preparation for the 120-bedroom Premier Inn hotel as well as new offices and conferencing facilities.

WORCESTERSHIRE have approached the England and Wales Cricket Board to request they play their opening games of the 2013 season away from New Road in a bid to buy enough time to finish the £10million redevelopment work at their historic headquarters.

Should the County’s request to the sport’s governing body find favour, then it would mean there would be no home fixture in Worcester until the first week in May.

Despite a two-week delay to the start of the demolition process, which finally got under way on Monday, County chief executive David Leatherdale is remaining optimistic the building work will be completed on schedule.

However, the New Road club have not yet heard back from the ECB in relation to their request.

Should it not be possible to switch their early fixtures, as they did in the 2009 campaign when the Graeme Hick Pavilion was constructed, New Road officials would have to decide if the ground could be made safe to host first-class cricket.

Alternatively, the fixtures could be switched to a nearby club ground, with Kidderminster Victoria being the most likely destination as Chester Road has recently hosted games when New Road has been flood-hit.

Leatherdale said: “We have had a couple of weeks delay in starting the demolition work for various reasons, such as finalising discussions with the contractors. It is nice to see the demolition work starting, though, as we have worked hard for four years on this project.

“The demolition work will take four to five weeks, then we hope the contractors will be on site in time for the second week in November.

“We were originally hoping to get in for May and that is still potentially the plan, but that depends on several factors, such as the weather which obviously we can’t control.

“We have asked the ECB if we could play some early fixtures away from here to allow extra time to finish off the build. Effectively, we wouldn’t play at home until the first week of May — hopefully that should be OK.”

Worcestershire’s ambitious redevelopment plan will see a 120-bedroom Premier Inn hotel as well as new offices and conferencing facilities constructed on the river Severn side of the ground.

Whitbread, Premier Inn’s parent company, is investing £7.5m in the hotel and restaurant, while the County will be contributing in excess of £2.5m towards the new facilities.

The hotel and restaurant are part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the ground which will also include the construction of new conference and executive facilities.

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