Incessant summer showers and rising costs have not stopped Warwickshire County Cricket Club from more than doubling profits.
The Ashes Test match at Edgbaston helped the club to post a £1.2 million profit in 2009, compared to £450,000 the year before.
Meanwhile, turnover increased from £11.9 million last year to £15.5 million, which helped the club to deal with rising expenditure.
The news comes as work begins on the long-awaited £30 million development of the world famous Edgbaston ground, which chief executive Colin Povey said would help ensure major cricket matches continued to be staged in the city.
He admitted that revenue from international matches was crucial to the business plan at the club, with seven days of play accounting for almost half of sales.
Mr Povey said: “In our business model international cricket is vitally important to us and last year was probably the best programme we could have had.
“We had The Ashes, a one-day international and the Twenty20 finals, which is becoming a major event. In terms of our international programme we had a very strong year.”
He added: “If you look at the international revenues I guess that the total would be getting close to 50 per cent of sales would be apportioned to those days.
“If you take five days of the Test match, one day of the one-day international and one for the 20/20 finals, that is only seven days, but the planning and the selling goes on for much longer.
“It is the same for most sports. If you look at rugby union then the Six Nations figures are likely to be huge at the moment.”
Mr Povey said despite a wet summer – which included losing a day of the five-day Ashes Test match – and an increase in costs, revenues and profits from the crucial Australia matches were ahead of the memorable 2005 match.
He said: “We are considerably ahead of the last time we hosted an Ashes match. I think the last time, in 2005, our profits were somewhere about £800,000 or £900,000.
“Despite the fact that we have some significant increases in the costs of hosting these matches, as well as an increase in policing costs and staging fees, there have been substantial increases in returns.
“Last summer wasn’t great and during the Test match we lost an entire day but that is not quite as disastrous as you might think because the ticket revenue is insured, so the punters get their money back but we don’t suffer a loss of income.
“Our corporate hospitality clients stayed and enjoyed the hospitality, and while you lose that extra discretionary spend we had a good crowd on the fifth day to make up for it.”
Attendees of Warwickshire’s annual general meeting on Wednesday were told about the rising sales, which came on the back of more than 100,000 cricket fans travelling to Birmingham to attend and watch the five-day Ashes test match.
They were also told that work was beginning on plans to develop Edgbaston into a 25,000-capacity ground with improved corporate facilities. The work will see much of the current structure, which dates back to the 1890s, upgraded, including the pavilion.
The project has been given funding from Birmingham City Council and the project has also benefited from a grant of just over £9 million from Advantage West Midlands.
Mr Povey said the newly-developed ground in place for a lucrative international test match in 2011.
He said: “We are planning a £30 million development and we are in the process of knocking the old ground down at the moment.
“We should be all systems go for a Test match with India in late summer 2011.
“That development has been fundamental to us being able to secure international cricket going forward.
“All of the Test match grounds have undergone major development or refurbishment and we have been working to ensure that we can offer the full range of facilities that are needed if we are going to have these showcase games.
“Having spent as long as we have to get the planning permission granted and the funding in place it will be a very welcome pleasure to see things get under way.”
The redevelopment of the ground courted more than 1,000 protests from people living nearby, but was given planning permission by Birmingham City Council last year.
Mr Povey said the majority of local people supported the development, and the vast majority wanted to keep international cricket in the region.
He said with Old Trafford losing its Ashes Test spot last year, with Cardiff a new potential rival, competition had never been as tough.
He said: “In general we have had a lot of support. I took part in a Birmingham Post blog event and something like 68 per cent of those who took part were in favour of our plans.
“There is a small hard core of people who have been very vocal in their criticism of the development – but want us to keep international cricket here.
“But at the end of the day if we want to keep having international venues you have got to keep the facilities. If Birmingham doesn’t build a stadium that is up to international cricket standards then Manchester and others will.”