THE County Ground, which the legendary WG Grace helped Gloucestershire to buy in 1889, is no longer the place where the club sees its future.
GCCC has announced it wants to relocate to a site near the M4 to ensure its “competitiveness and long-term sustainability”.
The club said that discussions with South Gloucestershire Council over several months had identified potential sites and was now ready for active negotiations around a potential move.
In a statement last month, GCCC said:“Our intention is to develop a stadium that is not only much more accessible to larger parts of the county of Gloucestershire, but is also purpose built to host the highest level of world cricket events.
“Whilst the current ground is still able to deliver the very highest level of cricket and customer experience at Nevil Road, we have to also prepare for the future. As we continue to grow, the strain on infrastructure and facilities at Nevil Road will become increasingly challenging, as will access to and from the ground. The opportunity to relocate is a highly exciting prospect for the club to explore.”
GCCC chair David Jones said the board was looking to leave the ground at Nevil Road, its base since 1889, and was considering two or three possible sites between Almondsbury and Emersons Green.
Former board member Adie Britton said the potential sites would be around three times the size of the existing ground, which is in a residential area with no space to expand.
The aim would be to accommodate a 12,000-seat stadium that could be temporarily expanded up to 20,000 for international matches, and would also have space for extra facilities, including training areas, other sports and a hotel. It would also be able to host other events that would generate income.
Mr Jones said: “This is a significant turning point for cricket in Gloucestershire and Bristol as we look to secure the club’s long-term future in an ever-changing sporting world.
“We look forward to engaging with our members, neighbouring residents, stakeholders and the public as we continue a journey that WG Grace started many years ago.”
The club has not responded to a request from the Voice for more details on the site locations.
The council also declined to give details of potential sites. A spokesperson said: “We welcome the interest from Gloucestershire County Cricket Club in potentially establishing a new home in South Gloucestershire. Any proposals would need to go through the proper planning processes and local people will be keen to hear more details as they emerge.”
Richard Gould, Chief Executive at the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said: “It’s always exciting to see County Clubs come up with ambitious plans for growth.
‘’We are clear on the importance of Bristol, Gloucestershire and the South West to the game and recognise that continued investment at all levels is vital for the ongoing growth of cricket across the region. It’s fantastic to see Gloucestershire displaying the ambition to provide cricket fans in the West Country with a state-of-the-art sports and leisure arena.”