Edgbaston may be in line for a multi-million pound redevelopment but it is still a favourite with cricket fans, according to a new piece of research by Drivers Jonas.
According to the international property consultants Lords is still number one for Test fans with Nottinghamshire’s Trent Bridge taking second spot.
According to the survey, which saw 3,000 fans take part, spectators believe there is plenty of room for grounds across the country to improve their catering, transport, toilet facilities and club shops. Improvement suggestions varied from venue to venue, but issues such as the installation of permanent floodlighting, better parking, non-junk food options and better ground facilities came at the top of their wishlist.
Geoff Aucock, partner at Drivers Jonas and head of the company’s sports division which commissioned the study, said: “However good a ground is, it’s the fans who really create the difference and make the experience of going there rather extraordinary. The view of the pitch, the quality of seating, ease of access and the standard of the facilities provided are also vital.”
Gary Cardin, head of the Birmingham Drivers Jonas office, added: “Despite being named as one of the top choices to host the forthcoming 2009 Ashes Series in the survey, Edgbaston is under increasing pressure to hold on to its test match venue status with other clubs in the UK massively investing in their grounds.
“As such, it’s pleasing to see Edgbaston’s forward thinking attitude with the planned £30 million redevelopment to ensure it retains its status as one of the UK’s premier grounds. In order to ensure success, the new ground will need to exceed fans’ expectations by improving its offering and enhancing its mix of retail, hospitality and sporting facilities.”
The survey found that Edgbaston is already leading the field in some of these areas, with an existing strong retail offering. The ground was rated joint highest for best ranges of goods in the club shop.
Other Midlands grounds were also praised – Worcestershire achieved the highest score for all-round uninterrupted views of the ground but, perhaps unsurprisingly, fans wished for less rain and better flood defences.
Trent Bridge, the world’s third oldest Test ground, was voted second for spectator facilities as well as second for best international cricket ground and top for its toilet facilities but fans wanted more big screens, a better tannoy system and real ales, yet conversely also fewer drunks and less bouncer-style security.
With the recent boom of Twenty20 cricket led by the UK, and now being spread across the world with the likes of the Stanford Challenge, 63 per cent of fans do not want to see any more Twenty20 matches, favouring instead the five day format.
Further praise for Midlands’ grounds came at the end of the survey, with respondents asked to name the best game of cricket they have ever seen, whether on TV or live. More than 90 per cent replied with the Ashes 2005 Tests held at the Brit Oval, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and Old Trafford.
Mr Cardin added: “It’s about getting the mix right as well as providing top quality cricket that grounds have to consider when developing and managing their facilities and this survey shows fans are passionate about their experience. I look forward to seeing the new ground develop.”