Council goes in to bat for Big Bash team

THE success of the Ricky Ponting tribute match at Aurora Stadium has prompted the Launceston City Council to seek a Big Bash League franchise in the city.

The council believes last month's crowd of 17,771 - the largest for a cricket match in Tasmania - presents a compelling argument for more cricket to be played in the North.

Mayor Albert van Zetten said the council had clearly established its ability to co- ordinate and host major events, and believed there was no reason why the 20,000-capacity venue could not host a team in the national Twenty20 competition.

"The Launceston City Council believes there is scope to play Big Bash League games at Aurora Stadium, and potentially open up new audiences for this competition," he said.

"The Ricky Ponting tribute match was, in anyone's terms, an outstanding success and has proved Aurora Stadium's suitability as a venue for first- class cricket."

Alderman van Zetten welcomed an election commitment from the Tasmanian Liberal Party to try and help bring BBL cricket games to Aurora Stadium.

"There is major potential to utilise Big Bash League cricket as another tourist drawcard for our region," he said.

"It is an appropriate next step for the council to now draw together stakeholders to form a working group to investigate the establishment of a Big Bash League team in Northern Tasmania."

The BBL, which completed its third season on Friday, has to date only accepted teams from capital cities, including two from Melbourne and Sydney, but Launceston and other regional cities are believed to be lobbying for further expansion.

Alderman van Zetten said the council was seeking a greater cricket presence to benefit the economy and draw people to the region.

"We are pleased that the Liberal Party has recognised this and their election commitment of supporting the development of a business plan will help us to underpin a working group to build a case for BBL cricket at Aurora, and I'm excited about the outcomes this project could lead to," he said.

Bass Liberal MHA Peter Gutwein told The Examiner a week ago that his party was in talks with the council about Launceston having a BBL team.

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