As a lover of cricket and having visited plenty of fantastic grounds around the world over the years, I'm struck with how Wellington's magnificent Basin Reserve holds the potential to be even better than it is.
During the recent heated debate over the adjacent NZTA scheme to place a flyover next to this great ground, its current condition and the great love for the ground have really come out. I have been one of those who didn't want to see it ruined.
The Basin has a magnificent location, at the end of Kent and Cambridge Terraces neighboring Government House and the National War Memorial. It also has some great features including the white picket fence and the embankment ringed in pohutukawas, that make it instantly recognizable.
It also has some very tired and poorly placed facilities and isn't the best place to be in a howling nor-wester. Getting to the ground involves crossing the biggest roundabout in the country.
With this in mind, I decided to put pencil to paper and come up with a simple idea that is empathetic to its location and improves access and facilities. Some of my ideas:
- Improve the embankment to make it a place to sit on the grass in all weather (admittedly a tricky thing in Wellington's breezy environment).
- Separate the access of pedestrians from the traffic. With our national team's recent improvement we are likely to see a few more sell-out crowds.
- Rejuvenate the R.A. Vance Stand: relocate the media gallery; reconfigure the roof to something that creates less wind disturbance; upgrade the seating, lounge and players' areas.
- Deal with the historic Museum Stand: it's poorly placed, unpleasant to sit in and a potential seismic risk but it holds the Cricket Museum and is part of the ground's important heritage.
- Add another stand (so I'm an optimist about the fate of NZ Cricket!)
- Integrate new sports lighting in to the grandstand design (rather than adding lighting towers.
- Possibly realign the wicket.
If this ground is to be improved it shouldn't be done to block out an eyesore; it should be done for the sake of the ground itself and the sport played there. It is a fantastic asset to our capital city after all.