A major international cricket tournament is set to provide a multi million pound boost to Birmingham’s economy and help Edgbaston stadium get over a sodden summer of disappointment.
The spending boost will come as Edgbaston, the home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, will host the final of the the ICC Champions Trophy next summer, on top of four major international matches during the tournament.
The one-day event, which pits eight sides against each other, is expected to contribute £12.6 million to the Birmingham economy through ticket sales and spending, as well as retail and hospitality in the city.
The news comes at the end of a tough summer for Edgbaston – despite Warwickshire winning the coveted county championship – as a series of washouts in major matches hit spending at the ground.
It was also overlooked for a lucrative Ashes Test match next year – despite investing £32 million in a new stand and improved facilities, making it England’s second largest cricket ground.
Chief executive Colin Povey told the Post the guaranteed income from the ICC Trophy had gone some way to making up for that.
He said: "It is definitely a feather in the cap because it is the first time the ECB has hosted a global tournament and the final has not been at Lords.
"We have England versus Australia, England versus Pakistan and India versus Pakistan games, which are going to be fantastic. They are a really good bundle of games.
"We were obviously disappointed we didn’t have an Ashes Test but this will go some way to making up for that."
Mr Povey said the games would be a "significant" boost to the balance sheet, and while they might not reach the heights of an Ashes Test, income was more guaranteed as a result of the structure.
He said: "The fee structure for this tournament is somewhat different. We get a flat fee each time we host a game and there is a bonus structure based on how we sell the tickets and how tickets sell in the overall tournament. It is different to the normal internationals where you bid for a game and then you take the revenue above that.
"It is a good structure for us because the revenue is secured."
Warwickshire CCC fell into the red last year, despite increasing sales, after costs increased. Revenue rose from £7.8 million to £11.7 million in the year to September 30, 2011.
But, after the balance sheet was boosted by the £2.7 million sale of fixed assets in 2010, the club’s pre-tax losses grew to £538,655, compared with £185,521 the year before.
Mr Povey admitted the loss of an Ashes Test next year – although it will return in 2015 – was a blow as in 2009 ticket sales brought in £2.5 million by the November before – seven months before a ball was bowled.
However, he said the award of the ICC Trophy was not a tit-for-tat decision.
"It was a separate award to that," Mr Povey said. "When they are having a global tournament they generally have three venues, and obviously London is generally well-placed because it has Lord’s and the Oval.
"There are obviously broadcast needs and now we have the facilities in place.
"The ECB is still trying to get a geographic spread for Tests, so Durham and other outlying grounds are getting more. But for the requirements of sponsors and broadcasting we are very well-placed in that regard."
The investment in Edgbaston took the capacity up to 25,000, but it was the improved media facilities and various sponsorship boxes which helped secure the prestigious event, Mr Povey said.
He said he hoped alongside providing a financial boost for the city, with sporting legacy very much in the public consciousness it would have a knock-on impact in terms of participation.
He said: "The work on the ground was done for these sort of marquee events and fixtures. There is no chance we would have had the sort of media requirements before.
"There has been a lot of talk this year surrounding the Olympics in London and the sporting legacy and this is a great opportunity not only for the stadium, but the city.
"If we can make everyone welcome in the way we did with the athletes training here in the Olympics and talk up the city it has to be good for everyone."
Mr Povey said Edgbaston had a "strong" programme of fixtures next year, with seven major days – the ICC Trophy matches and an Australia international and Twenty20 finals.
However, fans could have been forgiven for thinking Edgbaston was cursed when it came to the weather this summer.
Despite the major high of the championship triumph, a series of high-profile clashes weer washed out by bad weather.
No play was possible on three days of the scheduled five-day Test match between England and the West Indies in June.
And that was followed by the cancellation of a lucrative international limited overs clash with Australia and a domestic Twenty20 match with local rivals Worcestershire.
"It has been the worst summer anyone can remember," Mr Povey said. "We lost more days of cricket than anyone other than Gloucestershire this year and they tended to be on the big stage – the Test match, one-day international and domestic Twenty20.
"That was really disappointing and difficult for us. We were saying it would be nice to get this summer behind us, but then we went and won the County Championship and all of a sudden your memories somewhat change.
"I am sure we will remember it as a great year now – but it was an unbelievably wet summer."
Mr Povey said he tried to remain sanguine about weather troubles, but admitted it was hard to keep away from weather forecasts in the hope things would turn for the better.
He said the rain put a major strain on groundstaff – who were called upon to take the covers off the pitch no less than 16 times on one occasion.
He added: "I did have to chortle the other day with the football.
"You have got a £400 million stadium in Poland – one of the few with a roof – and a massive game against England and they still couldn’t get a game on."