Plans have been revealed for a £60m-plus transformation of the Leicestershire County Cricket Club ground.
Management want to totally redesign the stands, create a cricket academy offering the world’s first MBA in cricket management, and potentially open up space for retirement homes, shops or healthcare providers to bring in extra income.
The 15 acre Grace Road site sits just outside the city centre and over the next three-to-five years – if funding is found – the changes could help raise capacity from the current 6,000 to 10,000 spectators.
Changes would also improve facilities for the 19,999 capacity concerts the ground is allowed to host. Recent shows include Elton John and Little Mix, with Tom Jones set to perform this summer.
The improvements would in the footsteps of a new stand which opened at Leicester Tigers in 2020, and Leicester City FC’s plans to take capacity to more than 40,000, along with a 220-room hotel, 20-storey residential block, 6,000-capacity indoor entertainment area, and a new flagship club shop.
Cricket club chief executive Sean Jarvis told BusinessLive the Uptonsteel County Ground was ready for an overhaul – although he said the area was not suitable for a hotel.
He said: “Grace Road has not really progressed that much in the last couple of decades and the facilities need a makeover for us to compete and to generate income outside of cricket.
“We’ve got Tom Jones performing this summer, but we really need to make the facilities work through the whole year.
“Cricket and money from the ECB contribute 80-85 per cent of income and we want to expand the 15-20 per cent that comes from concerts and other events.”
CGI of how Leicestershire County Cricket Club could look He said club turnover hit a record £5 million last year – after being decimated during the pandemic – showing the growth potential.
He said: “This is a huge moment in the history of Leicestershire County Cricket Club.
“I joined two days before Covid and that, ironically, gave me the opportunity to press the reset button on the club to look at its DNA and how it operates.
“We were able to reflect on how we can develop going forward. Over the past 12 months I’ve been talking to all sorts of people across the city, from professional services to philanthropic individuals, about what we can do to provide a game-changer for the club and make the finances viable for investment.”
He said as well as building revenues the club had built its membership up from 1,250 to 1,400 in the last year with a target of reaching 1,700. Between them the members own the club and its land.
Mr Jarvis also said talks were already underway with Loughborough, Leicester and De Montfort University to create the Academy of Sport to train up the next generation of cricket management from within and from outside the sport.
He said: “As a club, we have always enjoyed success in developing cricketing talent of the future on the pitch.
“Our ambition is that we now want to replicate this off the pitch by creating opportunities for individuals searching for a career in the wider cricket environment.
“We have already held explorative talks with several higher education providers in the region and their feedback has been very encouraging.”
Mark Lewis, dean of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University, said: “Leicestershire County Cricket Club has an important place in the regional and national sporting landscape.
“The potential of an academic offering in partnership with higher education providers such as Loughborough University will be an attractive and exciting proposition.”
Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “Leicester is rightly proud of its sporting institutions.
“Our city has already benefited from the Tigers’ redevelopment of their Welford Road site, and we are looking forward to LCFC taking forward their ambitious plans very soon.
“I welcome the cricket club’s announcement and their plans to bring wider benefits to the local community, including new academic programmes with the potential to put Leicestershire on the international stage.”
You can find this story in My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.