Launceston has secured its first Big Bash League match with UTas Stadium set to host the Hobart Hurricanes next season.
The men’s team will top the bill in a double-header following a Hurricanes WBBL fixture on Saturday, December 30.
After 18 months of discussions between Cricket Tasmania, Cricket Australia, the Tasmanian Government and Launceston City Council, the fixture will be officially announced on Saturday.
Cricket Tasmania is already predicting the ground should be a sell-out.
The venue attracted a crowd of 17,771 for Ricky Ponting’s testimonial match in 2014 and has an AFL record of 20,971 set in 2006 while the Hurricanes have peaked at 18,149 for matches at Bellerive Oval and sold out three of their four home matches last season.
UTas Stadium has already hosted five Hurricanes WBBL games over the past two seasons.
Cricket Tasmania said it was keen to ensure the entire state was included in an expansion under the Hurricanes banner, just a few days after Mike Hussey’s independent report into the state’s cricket recommended further investment away from the capital.
CT CEO and former Sydney Thunder general manager Nick Cummins said: “The BBL was founded to bring new audiences and fans to the game of cricket, and that’s exactly what it’s done.
“Across Australia, average crowds last summer were at almost 31,000 per match, the fifth highest in the world of any sporting competition.
“We are confident the Hurricanes will draw a sell-out crowd to UTas Stadium, showcasing the club to a new audience and bringing with it a legion of existing and new Hurricanes fans from the North and North-West of Tasmania.”
Cummins added that two-thirds of attendees at BBL matches are families and nearly half are females.
Chairman Andrew Gaggin said it has always been Cricket Tasmania's intention to take the Hurricanes to Launceston.
“It is exciting this has now come to fruition and we look forward to Hurricanes fans embracing Launceston enabling us to extend our audience and truly make the Hurricanes Tasmania's team,” Gaggin said.
The BBL announced in January that it would extend its schedule with each of the eight franchises gaining a fifth home fixture. The Hurricanes are the first team to announce a new market.
Just last month, Cummins said an agreement to bring the BBL to Launceston was “imminent” but that money was the stumbling block.
“Ultimately there is quite a bit of cost taking the game to the North of the state, it’s a cost we’re prepared to bear so it’s just working out the details,” he said.
The cost of bringing the fixture to Launceston was not made public.
Cummins has previously stated: “The potential expansion of the BBL gives us a fantastic opportunity to turn the Hobart Hurricanes into the Hurricanes which is a team for all Tasmanians not just the people who live in the 7000 postcode.”
Hurricanes fans are encouraged to their register interest at www.hobarthurricanes.com.au for tickets.
Remaining fixtures, opponents and match times will be confirmed by Cricket Australia in the coming months.
2005: Completion of $23.6 million redevelopment of Aurora (now UTas) Stadium in Launceston.
2011: Hobart Hurricanes are one of eight teams in the Big Bash League, created to replace the state-based Twenty20 competition which had run since 2005.
January 29, 2014: A crowd of 17,771 attends the Ricky Ponting testimonial match at UTas Stadium.
January 10, 2016: A record attendance at Bellerive Oval (since the addition of the Ricky Ponting Stand) of 18,149 watches the BBL match between Hobart Hurricanes and Perth Scorchers.
January 18, 2016: BBL boss Anthony Everard says Launceston is on the radar of franchise expansion along with Canberra, Gold Coast and Geelong.
January 31, 2016: Cricket Tasmania refuses to commit to a Hobart Hurricanes home game in Launceston should the BBL extend its competition.
December 12, 2016: Hobart Hurricanes women’s team play a WBBL double-header against the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades at UTas Stadium and a third match against Adelaide the following day.
January 5, 2017: UTas Stadium hosts its fifth Hurricanes WBBL game in two seasons.
January 21, 2017: The Hurricanes lose at home to Perth Scorchers to finish second-last in the BBL for the second season running. The team sells out three of its four home games and averages crowds of 17,570, up from 10,517 in its inaugural season of 2011-12.
January 24, 2017: Former Sydney Thunder general manager Nick Cummins appointed Cricket Tasmania’s new chief executive to replace David Johnston, and suggests a BBL expansion could bring three games to Launceston.
January 27, 2017: A crowd of 10,120 attends the Ponting Foundation fund-raiser at UTas Stadium between Hawthorn and North Melbourne celebrity teams.
January 28, 2017: Everard confirms the next BBL season will expand by a further eight matches, ensuring an extra home game for each side.
April 3, 2017: Former South African batsman Gary Kirsten named Hobart Hurricanes coach, replacing Damien Wright whose contract was not renewed
May 8, 2017: Cummins says an agreement to bring the BBL to Launceston is “imminent”, but says “money is the stalling block” for a deal between Cricket Tasmania, Launceston City Council and the state government.
June 3, 2017: Cricket Tasmania announces that UTas Stadium will stage a BBL-WBBL double-header fixture on December 30, 2017.