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Thursday, 5 January 2012

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Facelift for Australia's SCG

The venerable Sydney Cricket Ground is to get a major US$191 million makeover with the demolition of three spectator stands in favour of one huge state-of-the-art grandstand, officials said Tuesday.

Known as the city's ``grand lady", the SCG began life as a military cricket ground in the 1850s and hosted its first Test, against England, in 1882. The ground celebrated its 100th Test on Tuesday with Australia's second Test against India, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a sweeping upgrade of the ``iconic sporting arena" to mark the occasion.

``This is an exciting project, not only for Sydneysiders but for all Australians, who have grown up watching the New Year's Test and relishing in the history and tradition of the ground," Gillard said in a statement.

Next stage

"Today marks the beginning of the next stage of SCG's development to ensure it maintains its rightful place as a world-class sporting facility." Work is expected to begin shortly after Australia's one-day international against India in February and the upgrade is scheduled for completion in time for the Ashes series against England in early 2014.

Three stands will be demolished to make way for one extended multi-level stand which will improve the view from many seats and bring up to 85 percent of them under cover as part of the Aus$186 million (US$191 million) upgrade.

Making way are the M.A. Noble, Dally Messenger and Bradman stands, although the Noble stand's famed clock tower will be preserved as it is officially listed as a heritage item.

Dining room

A rooftop terrace with views of the city skyline, 700-person dining room and secure player arrival area will also be part of the overhaul, which will also see a high-tech upgrade of media and corporate suites and new dressing rooms.

The refurbished SCG will also feature what Gillard said would be the ``largest video screen at any Australian sports ground", with a new scoreboard almost double the size of the current screen to be part of the works.

The Australian government and the ground's Trust will each contribute Aus$50 million, and the New South Wales state government $86 million.

Total capacity of the ground, which also hosts Australian Rules Football and National Rugby League games, will be boosted from 45,000 to almost 48,000. (AFP)

 

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