Lan­cashire on the verge of big things

Middleton Guardian - - LEISURE -

DAVID Hodgkiss be­lieves Lan­cashire Cricket Club is on the verge of some­thing great.

And the Lan­cashire chair­man feels that, af­ter sev­eral years of sta­dium re­de­vel­op­ment and fi­nan­cial strug­gles, the club is in an ideal po­si­tion to ben­e­fit from the mas­sive changes com­ing to English cricket .

By the end of this month, the first guests will be check­ing in to the im­pres­sive new 150-room Hil­ton Gar­den Inn at Emi­rates Old Traf­ford , com­plet­ing what has been an enor­mous trans­for­ma­tion of the fa­mous old ground.

But it hasn’t been with­out its strug­gles, with the club at one point back in 2011 strug­gling to pay staff wages.

Now, with The Point, re­de­vel­oped pav­il­ion and ho­tel all in place and able to gen­er­ate non-crick­et­ing rev­enue greater than any other county ground, Hodgkiss feels the club is in a won­der­ful po­si­tion – es­pe­cially with the new city-based T20 tour­na­ment due to start in 2020 and a hec­tic 2019 which will see the club host an Ashes Test and a World Cup semi-fi­nal.

“This is the start of the next stage of Lan­cashire,” said Hodgkiss, who took over as chair­man from Michael Cairns in April.

“We want to de­mol­ish the Red Rose Suite, it is in­ap­pro­pri­ate for the sta­dium now and there will be more seats there. We have com­mis­sioned an ar­chi­tect to re­view that.

“I would like to make the sta­dium big­ger, add an­other 5,000 to the ca­pac­ity. You al­ways have to have growth tar­gets, but the busi­ness has to go for­ward and that in­cludes sta­dium de­vel­op­ment.

“I do think we should get big­ger crowds, that’s a target of mine. We are sur­rounded by a pop­u­la­tion over five mil­lion, we should get big­ger crowds than we do.

“We sell out to York­shire in the NatWest T20 Blast, which shows there is an ap­petite for it.

“But we don’t max out our links to clubs, we don’t max out the fact we are part of Manch­ester, and Cheshire and the whole north west. There is loads to go at. So we want a big­ger sta­dium, we want big­ger crowds, we want en­thu­si­as­tic crowds, we want in­volved crowds. We want crowds keen to get in­volved in Lan­cashire cricket.”

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