Test matches may never be played in Birmingham again unless city planners approve a £30 million makeover for the Edgbaston ground, Warwickshire County Cricket club has warned.
WCC chief executive Colin Povey said the stadium’s future as a top-flight international venue rested entirely on bringing the 100-year-old stadium up to modern standards with new stands, changing rooms, media centre and corporate facilities.
At the centre of the plan is a controversial proposal for five permanent 150ft high floodlights, which Mr Povey said were essential if Edgbaston is to stage lucrative 20-20 Series games and matches in the 2019 World Cup.
He made it clear that the refurbishment would be in danger of collapsing if Birmingham City Council refused permission for the floodlights and for a mixed-use development next to the ground consisting of offices, houses, a hotel, cafes and bars.
He issued a special plea to the council planning committee, urging members to do their bit to retain Test matches in Birmingham.
Eight years ago, the club’s attempt to get permission for floodlights was rejected by the council and subsequently at an appeal.
Since then the club has hired temporary floodlights when staging night matches.
Mr Povey said the temporary facilities no longer provided a high enough standard of lighting to meet the requirements of the English Cricket Board.
He added: “We are very conscious that we have previous history, and not very good history, in relation to floodlighting applications.
“But we have hosted on a regular basis three to four days of international floodlit cricket without any significant issues.
“It is becoming more and more crucial that we have permanent lights of a high quality.”
The lights will be used on no more than 15 days a year, Mr Povey promised.
Edgbaston brings about £12 million a year into the local economy through spending by spectators, according to the cricket club.
But the ground faces fierce competition from a growing number of rival Test match stadiums, including Durham, Cardiff and Southampton.
Mr Povey said the club was keen to work with the local community and address concerns about the floodlighting and the refurbished stadium.
He added: “Our aim is to improve Edgbaston not only as a place to play cricket but as a place to live and work.”
Edgbaston city councillor James Hutchings said people were concerned about “over-intensive” redevelopment of the ground.
Coun Hutchings (Con Edgbaston) added: “They are worried about the lights at night shining into their homes and the noise from the crowds. There is also considerable anxiety that the ground might be sued for alternative events other than cricket matches.”
The planning committee will make a decision on the club’s application next month.