AN upgrade of Bellerive Oval is set to go ahead after the state government yesterday committed $15 million to the redevelopment which will boost the ground's capacity from 15,000 to around 19,500.
The work is expected to start by the middle of this year and will be completed in time for the 2015 cricket World Cup.
The announcement has been welcomed by several interest groups, but copped criticism from the opposition, with Liberal leader Will Hodgman questioning the government's priorities.
``The Premier must explain how she can afford $15 million for a new grandstand when she can't afford to properly fund essential services like health and public safety,'' Mr Hodgman said.
The development will include the construction of a new Western Stand, a new concourse and gate entry area, a revamp of Southern Stand catering facilities and increased kiosk and toilet facilities on the hill.
Premier Lara Giddings said the state government was supporting the project ``because it will create much needed jobs for Tasmanians and improve our ability to host more elite level sport like today's One Day International and AFL matches''.
``It has been more than a decade since the last major improvements were made to Blundstone Arena and it is important that this picturesque ground continues to evolve to accommodate the needs of modern sport and the patrons that attend.''
The state's contribution is in addition to $15 million from the Commonwealth, announced last January by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
``Our contribution will be paid in 2014-15 when it is forecast that we will be out of net debt and well on the way to a sustainable budget position,'' Ms Giddings said.
Cricket Australia, Cricket Tasmania, the AFL and AFL Tasmania all welcomed the announcement.
Former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting also threw his support behind the move.
``Blundstone Arena is going to become one of the world's most modern and engaging venues,'' Ponting said.
``It's great news for the fans as well as the players. I'm an extra proud Tasmanian today and can't wait to see the finished product.''