Levin’s own field of dreams

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - KELVIN TEIXEIRA

‘‘Our goal is to bring first class cricket to Levin. ’’

Cricket fans are fa­mil­iar with the hal­lowed grounds of the Basin Re­serve and Eden Park, but what about Don­nelly Park?

The name could have more promi­nence if plans to bring first­class cricket matches to Levin come to fruition.

Like the Field of Dreams movie sce­nario of ‘build it and they will come’, the Levin Cricket Foun­da­tion hopes a $160,000 ex­pan­sion to its in­door train­ing cen­tre at Don­nelly Park will help it meet New Zealand Cricket’s ‘war­rant of fit­ness’ stan­dards for first-class match venues.

The project would see a sec­ond level built to the Basil Net­ten In­door Cen­tre, in­cor­po­rat­ing sep­a­rate chang­ing and bath­room fa­cil­i­ties for two cricket teams, an um­pires room, kitch­enette and ve­randa. Match of­fi­cials would oc­cupy the ex­ist­ing down­stairs of­fice space look­ing out to the field.

Horowhenua Ka¯piti Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Dave O’Brien said the clos­est venue cur­rently able to host first-class matches was the Basin Re­serve in Wellington.

‘‘There is po­ten­tial col­lab­o­ra­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties with both Cricket Wellington and Cen­tral Dis­tricts due to Levin’s prox­im­ity, which is ex­cit­ing for our com­mu­nity,’’ O’Brien said.

Through­out the Cen­tral Dis­tricts re­gion, only three venues cur­rently met the stan­dards re­quired to host Plun­ket Shield matches - McLean Park and Nel­son Park, both in Napier, and Sax­ton Oval in Nel­son.

‘‘Our goal is to bring first class cricket to Levin. It would be great to host our own Cen­tral Dis­tricts Stags,’’ O’Brien said.

‘‘With that be­ing said, the lo­cal crick­et­ing com­mu­nity will be the main ben­e­fi­ciary of the im­prove­ments. We are com­mit­ted to mak­ing sure the dis­trict’s crick­et­ing com­mu­nity have qual­ity fa­cil­i­ties to im­prove their play­ing en­joy­ment and over­all ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘As much as we’d like it to hap­pen, we’re not ex­pect­ing to one day host the Black Caps against an­other in­ter­na­tional team - we wouldn’t have the ca­pac­ity. How­ever, if we get our fa­cil­ity and the on­go­ing work to our grounds right, we could put our hands up to host other big matches such as fu­ture women’s World Cup or un­der-19s World Cup events.’’

Build­ing con­sent ap­proval was ex­pected within days, with con­struc­tion to be­gin next week and hope­fully com­pleted in five weeks - in time for do­mes­tic matches be­tween the Cen­tral Dis­tricts Hinds and Wellington Blaze women’s teams, from Novem­ber 24 to 26. A Cen­tral Dis­tricts A ver­sus Wellington A men’s match was sched­uled for Jan­uary.

‘‘The Cen­tral Dis­tricts As­so­ci­a­tion have given us this golden op­por­tu­nity to show­case our fan­tas­tic fa­cil­i­ties and wider com­mu­nity,’’ O’Brien said.

Cen­tral Dis­tricts Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Pete de Wet said he fully sup­ported the Levin Cricket Foun­da­tion’s plans for Don­nelly Park.

The planned ex­pan­sion to the Basil Net­ten In­door Cen­tre had been made pos­si­ble af­ter Horowhenua Dis­trict Coun­cil last week ap­proved a $100,000 noin­t­er­est loan to the foun­da­tion.

The loan would be funded from the coun­cil’s cash re­serves, mean­ing no rates im­pact, and would be re­quired to be re­paid by the Levin Cricket Foun­da­tion within 10 years.

Coun­cil­lor Bernie Wan­den said he was a for­mer Horowhenua cricket rep­re­sen­ta­tive and ap­plauded the ef­forts be­ing made to bring first-class cricket to the dis­trict.

‘‘I had the hon­our of play­ing with Basil Net­ten and I’d say he’s be smil­ing in his grave at what was be­ing done,’’ Wan­den said.

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