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 first-class 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.
* Nelson Griffins beat Horowhenua by two wickets in Chapple Cup thriller
* We should bring top-flight cricket back to Palmerston North
* Manawatu Cricket pitches upgrade plans for Fitzherbert Park
Horowhenua Kāpiti 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 NZ Cricket 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. The improvements certainly achieve this.
“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 a round of 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.
“To be able to secure these List A matches is testament to what we’re doing at Donnelly Park. The Central Districts Association have given us this golden opportunity to showcase our fantastic facilities and wider community,” O’Brien said.
“It will be great for local cricket fans to be able to enjoy this next level of the sport played here, as well as those coming from out of town.”
Central Districts Cricket Association chief executive Pete de Wet said he fully supported the Levin Cricket Foundation’s plans for Donnelly Park.
“To have another option will be good for us, but equally it would also benefit the community there. There are positives all round.”
The planned expansion to the Basil Netten Indoor Centre had been made possible after Horowhenua District Council last week approved a $100,000 no-interest 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.