Cape Town - Plans are afoot to transform Newlands Cricket Ground into a precinct of blue-chip offices, doctors’ rooms and places of entertainment.
Nabeal Dien was appointed chief executive of the Western Province Cricket Association last month, and is helping to steer the ground into a new era.
Of the stadium’s 114 corporate suites, only 39 are in use – and only on the 20-odd match days a year. The cricket association plans to transform these suites into office space in a R400 million development that should be completed in 2017.
The plan can only go ahead if the land is rezoned by the City of Cape Town.
Dien said the idea was to create sustainable income for the stadium flowing in every day, rather than on event days only. “At the moment we sit with a R22 million debt. Aside from getting rid of that debt, how do we sustain the stadium because we only play a maximum 20 days of cricket a year?”
Dien said two of the three pavilions would have their suites converted to offices, and a new building would be added.
“We will lose nothing in terms of capacity in the stadium, in fact it could possibly enhance capacity. We will have a three-tier parking garage for 540 vehicles, a 300-bay bicycle garage, two or three restaurants, two or three coffee shops, and we will modernise our player centre.
“I’ve initiated a cricket school, and that will be fully housed within the stadium. They will have a full floor of the new building. There will be a cricket museum and a shop.”
If the plans are given the go-ahead, construction will start around April next year.
Dien said that where the cricket association was earning R75 000 on a suite each year, it could earn the same amount for a floor of office space every month.
Businesses likely to take up residence in the new office space would still be cricket-friendly enterprises, especially as health professionals such as physiotherapists and biokineticists from the Sports Science Institute had expressed an interest in the space.
“I’m pretty sure other stadiums will follow this,” he said. “If they’d thought a little harder they would have done this with Cape Town Stadium.”