The Ashes is heading to Tasmania for the first time as Blundstone Arena in Hobart was confirmed as the new venue for the fifth Test between Australia and England.
The Test match, which will be a day-night, pink-ball fixture, is to be played in Tasmania after being stripped from Perth due to Covid restrictions in Western Australia.
The game will be played at the 20,000-capacity Blundstone Arena – originally built as Bellerive Oval in 1914. Tasmania premier Peter Gutwein has indicated the capacity for each day of the Ashes Test will be 14,000 due to social distancing guidelines.
Officials from Cricket Australia chose Hobart after last month’s Test between Australia and Afghanistan was cancelled. The Tasmanian venue was picked over the option of a second Test of the series being played at the vast Melbourne or Sydney venues.
Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia’s chief executive, said: “We considered a range of factors, including commercial, logistical and operational considerations.
“On the balance of these the CA board agreed on Blundstone Arena being the most appropriate venue to host the fifth Vodafone Men’s Ashes Test match.
“We also acknowledge the postponement of the Australia and Afghanistan Test due to be played in Hobart earlier in the year played a part in the decision.”
Blundstone Arena underwent a $34m redevelopment project in 2013, which saw the construction of the new Western Stand which was named the Ricky Ponting stand after the Tasmania-born former Australian captain.
“This is a great day not just for Tasmanian cricket, but for Tasmania in general,” said Dominic Baker, Cricket Tasmania’s chief executive.
“This will be without a doubt the biggest sporting event Tasmania has ever hosted.
“While the circumstances that have led us to be able to have the opportunity to host this Test are undoubtedly unique, we are thrilled that Tasmanians will have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness an Ashes Test in their own backyard.”
Blundstone Arena has held numerous international cricket matches over the last three decades, and is the home of Big Bash League team Hobart Hurricanes and the state Tasmanian Tigers. It also hosts three of AFL team North Melbourne’s matches each season.
Baker added: “Blundstone Arena is a world-class venue, and we are excited to work with Cricket Australia and the Ashes broadcast partners to show that to the world. As a one-sixth owner of Cricket Australia, we are thrilled that our state’s contribution to Australian cricket has been recognised in this way.
“The work by Peter Gutwein and all involved has been nothing short of monumental. Our team is raring to go to deliver this match and, along with the Clarence City Council and Tasmanian Government, I’m confident it will be an event no one will ever forget.”