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Final plans unveiled for WACA’s ‘boutique venue’ future

The Western Australian Cricket Association has revealed final schematic designs for the WACA Ground redevelopment project, with plans to adapt the venue for Aussie rules football and talks continuing over an adjacent aquatics centre.

The latest news comes after it was confirmed in August that the iconic WACA would be reshaped as a 10,000-seat “boutique venue” as part of a development project that confirms Perth’s Optus Stadium as the state’s premier international cricket venue.

The project has already secured A$30m (£16.6m/€19.4m/$22.8m) in funding commitments from both the Federal and Western Australian Governments, as well as A$4m from Cricket Australia.

The final design will scale the WACA back from its current capacity of around 20,000. The vision is for a sustainable boutique 10,000-capacity community and sporting destination that will revitalise the East Perth precinct and also reflect and incorporate the rich history of the Ground, which first opened in the early 1890s.

The Inverarity and Prindiville stands will be removed to make way for one central pavilion on the northern end of the Ground, which will incorporate a number of key community amenities to be utilised by the public all year-round.

These designs include a seven-day operating café, revitalised museum, community health club, sports medicine and rehabilitation centre, all-abilities playground and a sensory room for the public. It is intended that the early works will commence prior to the beginning of the 2021-22 cricket season, with anticipated completion scheduled for early 2024.

WACA chairman, Tuck Waldron, said: “We’re excited to share the schematic design of the WACA Ground Improvement Project that showcase the much-needed revitalisation of the iconic home of cricket in WA into a year-round community destination for all to enjoy.

“The transformation of this world-famous Ground will have significant benefits for our great game and the needs of the wider community now and into the future, and will play a key role in activating the East Perth precinct.

“The design presents exciting opportunities for both the community and delivery of our high-performance program, and we look forward to sharing these in more detail once the next stage of the project is complete.”

The project will deliver enhanced high-performance facilities for cricket and other sports, including a world-class 10-lane indoor cricket and multi-sport centre, high-performance gym for the state cricket programs, as well as home and match-day changing rooms and recovery facilities.

The oval will also be lengthened to accommodate Aussie rules football and other sports while the Lillee-Marsh Stand, Players’ Pavilion and South West Pavilion will be retained for its remaining useful life, as well as the east and west grass banks.

The WACA said it remains in discussions with the City of Perth and state and federal governments around the integration of an aquatic facility which includes a six-lane 50-metre pool, learn to swim pool and leisure slide.

The Project Working Group and Steering Committee, established by the WACA to govern the project, will lead the venture into stage three, which involves detailed design and procurement. The project, including the aquatic centre, is part of a A$1.5bn Perth City Deal signed by the federal and state governments, and the City of Perth, back in September.

Western Australia’s Minister for Planning, Rita Saffioti, said: “The project will add amenity and vibrancy to East Perth and the wider Perth CBD. The WACA Ground itself will become a fantastic community facility, complete with a long-desired aquatic centre and new recreational space for the growing population.”

WACA CEO, Christina Matthews, said the organisation will begin formal talks with the WA Football Commission in the coming fortnight, concerning the Ground’s use as an Aussie rules venue. She told the West Australian newspaper: “What we’ve got to remember with football though is we have to make sure our cricket isn’t compromised, so the start of the season and the end of the season can’t be compromised by football.

“But we think there’s a great opportunity for the footy commission to take advantage of this facility for commercial reasons and the benefit of WAFL (West Australian Football League) supporters around the state.”

Matthews also maintained that the WACA’s status as an international cricket venue will not end with the redevelopment, with the potential to expand the 10,000 capacity through temporary seating. She added: “We intend in the future to host Test matches, but against developing nations so the capacity of 15,000 is about right for what we want to do.”

Images: Western Australia Cricket Association