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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, an Antiguan white elephant that lumbers on

The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, built before the 2007 World Cup to move big cricket games out of the historic but cramped Antigua Recreation Club, has solved one problem, but given rise to others.

india-vs-west-indies-2017 Updated: Jun 29, 2017 19:31 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
North Sound, Antigua
The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua was built before the 2007 ICC World Cup.
The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua was built before the 2007 ICC World Cup.(Getty Images)

New stadiums in the West Indies are mainly government properties, unlike in India where the state cricket associations own the newest properties.

The Brian Lara Coaching Academy in Trinidad that houses the new stadium that is getting ready for inauguration by hosting the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is the latest that follows the example of the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium here, which has hosted games since the 2007 World Cup and will host Friday’s third ODI between India and Windies.

READ | India vs West Indies: Fielding keeps Team India’s seniors on their toes

Dragged down by costs

However, there are some issues. While the Brian Lara Stadium faces delays, the Sir Viv Richards Stadium, a massive structure with a huge outfield and plenty of parking space, is seeking sponsors that can take foot the maintenance cost.

The Stadium, after hosting two CPL editions, declined to host the third edition. Unlike IPL, the host stadium -- in this case the Antigua government -- is expected to pay to host the CPL and not earn from it.

READ | India vs West Indies: Dwayne Bravo hosts MS Dhoni and family over dinner

Anthony Merrick, a former Leewards Islands paceman, who played against the visiting Indian team in 1983 and is now the ground’s curator says, “It is difficult to host matches like this. If the government (which owns the stadium) has to pay to host CPL matches, what is the return they’ll be getting? Nothing, since the gate money too goes to franchises.”

As of now, the board, recently renamed Cricket West Indies, is paying 10,000 USD per day for two weeks for these two games.

Switch before 2007 World Cup

The Stadium was gifted by China to the Antiguan government ahead of the 2007 World Cup. The previous venue, the famous Antigua Recreation Ground where Lara made the record Test score of 400 not out in 2004, is being used for other sports. However, an official says it’ll soon be thrown open for local and domestic cricket.

This venue at the North Sound locality has many grass banks, something the visiting English fans, Barmy Army, love. An official says the Barmy Army fans prefer to sit on the grass banks even if they’ve paid for the more expensive stands.

READ | If West Indies start winning, things might change: Gus Logie

The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium is huge and has lot of parking space, which the ARG lacked, forcing the government to choose a new venue.

To meet the maintenance costs, the stadium is rented out for functions, events and parties, which sometimes are held on the ground too. Sounds familiar?

First Published: Jun 29, 2017 19:09 IST

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