Claims that pop concerts and other live music events will be staged at Edgbaston if Warwickshire County Cricket club wins planning permission for permanent floodlights have been dismissed as “completely and utterly untrue”.
A club spokesman hit back at rumours circulating among residents and community groups opposed to a £32 million ground improvement scheme.
Organisations representing people living close to Edgbaston fear that the five floodlights, which the club says are vital in order to keep international cricket, may be the first step toward maximising commercial use of the 25,000-seat stadium.
But a WCCC spokesman said the club had agreed with Birmingham City Council, as a condition attached to its planning application, that floodlighting would only be used during cricket matches and on no more than 15 days a year. He added: “There is absolutely no intention to have pop concerts or concerts of any kind. It is completely and utterly untrue to suggest otherwise.”
Club officials insist they can meet the repayments for a £20 million council loan toward the cost of ground improvements purely through cricket matches and corporate hospitality, although an auditors report by Deloitte casts doubt on income forecasts.
Chairmen of 10 residents associations and neighbourhood forums have written to city councillors demanding that the offer of a loan be withdrawn.
Cannon Hill Neighbourhood Forum chairman Leo Nation said he did not believe the club’s assurances, adding the forum was concerned because annual repayments of £20 million loan would be greater than Warwickshire’s current income.
He added: “The ground is only used for about 20 weeks of the year during the cricket season. There is bound to be financial pressure on the club to find ways of using the ground for the rest of the year. We expect that in a little while Warwickshire will come back and say ‘we need one or two exceptional concerts otherwise we won’t be able to pay the city council its money back’.”
WCCC’s application is expected to return to committee next month after the club responded to criticism by reducing the size of the scheme by about 10 per cent.