$4m pitch for cricket at Aurora

LAUNCESTON aldermen will vote on a $4 million upgrade of Aurora Stadium and Invermay Park at a special meeting on Monday. 

The proposal includes a $150,000 drop-in wicket, a $750,000 big screen and broadcast media facilities. 

The move is designed to counter dominance by Hobart's Bellerive Oval. 

``There are two major sporting venues in Tasmania and Aurora Stadium cannot afford to fall behind, particularly given the proposed  $38 million redevelopment of Blundstone Arena,'' Aurora manager Robert Groenewegen said.

If approved the plan will be subject to funding from Regional Development Australia for $2 million with the Launceston City Council, which owns the ground, contributing $1.2 million.

The state government has already announced $1 million for a sixth light tower and other lighting upgrades. 

The board of Cricket Tasmania has agreed that the upgrade would allow Aurora to have:

--One Ryobi Cup match a year if the number of home games is not less than four, as is the case now.

--One Big Bash Twenty20 game if there are more than the current four games.

--Consideration for Aurora to be a pre-tournament training venue for one team at the 2015 World Cup and to host two pre-tournament games.

--One round of Tasmanian Roar Women's National League matches a season.

--NTCA first-grade competition matches. 

Cricket Tasmania chief executive David Johnston said he would not want the NTCA ground ``neglected at the expense of upgrading Aurora''.

Time is critical for the decision with a wicket needing to be established by February next year to meet World Cup timeframes.

The council estimates the annual economic benefit of the upgrade would be about $3.6 million, including $240,000 extra from increased ticket sales. 

Under the proposal Invermay Park and Aurora Stadium would be managed as one facility. 

Nearly $1.5 million of the package would go towards improvements to Invermay Park.

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