Christina Matthews, chief executive of the Western Australian Cricket Association, has conceded that the WACA Ground is unlikely to host much international cricket in the future amid the imminent opening of the new Optus Stadium.
The 60,000-seat, state-of-the-art Optus Stadium is due to open on January 28 with a one-day international match between Australia and England.
The third Test of the Ashes concluded at the 20,000-capacity WACA Ground earlier today (Monday), with Australia securing victory to establish an unassailable 3-0 series lead and regain the famous trophy.
Matthews said the final decision on whether the WACA Ground would host similar-calibre matches in the future would be made by Cricket Australia. The multi-purpose Optus Stadium is, however, expected to move ahead of the WACA Ground in the pecking order once it opens its doors.
“At this stage we’ll be working on what’s best for cricket fans in WA, not what’s best for the ground,” Matthews told ABC Radio. “We’ve got great plans for the ground that are outside Test cricket and international cricket, so we’re quite happy with the future. But most importantly, we’ve got to be able to say hand on heart that we want the best cricket at the best ground for the fans and the players.
“The traditionalists obviously love cricket here. This Test has been fantastic for people being involved and loving the Test. I haven’t heard any people to be honest saying ‘It’s terrible they’re going, this is where it should be played.’ Everybody’s looking forward to something new and exciting. We’re lucky on the 28th of January, we’ve got the first ODI, and that will really give us a good idea of what the future’s going to hold.”
Once Optus Stadium is open, the WACA Ground is expected to become a more community-focused facility, hosting local cricket matches and West Australian Football League fixtures.
Matthews added: “This is the home of cricket, forevermore. Sheffield Shield, one-day domestic, our women’s 50-over games, WBBL. But more importantly it’s going to be a ground that’s more available to the community.
“We’ll look to build high performance facilities, indoor centre that can be used when it’s raining, recovery facilities, swimming pool, that all the cricket community can use. At the moment we’re restricted because of the facilities we’ve got here and the overlay of international cricket. So it’s going to be a brilliant facility for the cricket community and the broader community. We’re open to sharing those facilities with other sports.”