Newcastle cricketers will take to the pitch for the first round of their district cricket season this weekend to mark the reopening of Newcastle’s No.
Players will benefit from the extensive refurbishment of the site which included the construction of seven turf cricket goals, new privacy screens and oval fencing.
The playing surface has also been completely remodeled, with a new underground irrigation and drainage system providing a high quality, consistent playing surface whilst the increased field size meets the minimum standard for high level AFL and cricket matches.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the redesign of No 1 Sports Ground will allow Newcastle to attract top-flight cricket and AFL pre-season games while benefiting local people who use it regularly for grassroots and regional sport.
“Sports Field No. 1 was designed and built in 1921 and officially opened 100 years ago last month,” said Cr Nelmes.
“During this period the venue has hosted a variety of sporting and non-sporting events including the 1931 Mayor’s Relief Fund and the Newcastle Ambulance Round where cricket legend Don Bradman led a women’s cricket team at No.1 Sportsground .
“The redevelopment offers significantly improved facilities for regular users of the site and offers a potential economic boost to our city through the attraction of major sporting events.
“The Novocastrians love their sport and the work completed on the No 1 Sports Ground will put us in the running to host AFL pre-season games and Big Bash league regional games here in Newcastle.
“We continue to explore government funding opportunities to complete the second phase of the project, which will increase the footprint of the existing grandstand with a two-story addition to the rear of the building to provide enhanced amenities for players, officials and spectators.”
Other features of the first stage work that have been completed include a lighting upgrade to allow for evening lighting, new players’ benches and additional seating in the stands to nearly double the seating capacity from 400 to 790.
Newcastle District Cricket Association secretary Aaron Gray said he was looking forward to seeing cricket at the top-class facility again.
“Our season kicks off at Sports Ground #1 with a first year game on Saturday and our new Twenty20 competition for SG Moore Shield U16 boys on Sunday,” said Mr Grey.
“It’s a very good position for us to have the best ground in the game this season, especially now that we’ve grown to 208 teams across all competitions, while the improvement in lighting means we’re able to do more day/night events play and women and men can host male cricket in a quality venue.”
No 1 Sports Ground is located on the corner of Parry Street and Union Street in the legendary National Park, one of Newcastle’s largest and oldest sports grounds and open space reserves. It has facilities for a range of sports including netball, AFL, cricket, rugby, football, athletics and croquet, and offers recreational sports and games on basketball courts and parkland.
Other recently completed work at the national park includes the construction of four additional basketball courts on the former tennis court site near the corner of National Park Street and Parry Street, and court upgrades at the #5 and #6 athletic fields which have improved the playing surface of both courts and enabled effective management of the national park’s flood storage capacity.