Project director Mike Hill, president Alister Dunning and CEO Jamie Clifford applaud Rob Key
By Mark Pennell
‘Bob the Builder“ in the guise of county captain Rob Key arrived in Canterbury on Monday to cut the all-important first sod of Kent“s ground re-development programme.
New retractable floodlights, a two-storey dressing room block, pristine members“ facilities in a refurbished pavilion and a new club shop and office complex are the three initial stages of this winter“s St Lawrence refurbishment scheme that commenced today.
After watching his club captain break the topsoil to commemorate the start of their plans, Kent“s chief executive officer, Jamie Clifford, said: “I“m tremendously excited. It“s been a long haul getting to this point, but it“s tremendous to know now that this project is going to happen.
“We“ve been in existence as a club since 1870, the Ames Stand was built in 1890 and the pavilion in 1900, so other than the Colin Cowdrey Stand not much has happened here post war.
“There is now the opportunity to really invest in our infrastructure and make sure the asset we have here is really as good as it can be. That gives us a tremendous amount of hope and a real sense if vision of where we want to get to, which is a standard of facility that the 21st century sports fan expects. We completed our deal with Bellway Homes last week so we really now move ahead very quickly.”
Project director, Mike Hill, who has already been involved with the St Lawrence venture for three years, added: “We will bring control and management structure to the scheme, so there is the least amount of disruption to cricket matches here next season. Thankfully cricket isn“t a 365 days-a-year sport; it is confined to the summer, so we“re trying to do much of what we can in terms of demolition of the existing facilities and re-building in this closed period.”
As for ‘Bob the Builder“, club skipper Key, he will be delighted to have bigger dressing rooms and new floodlights for the start of the 2011 campaign.
Key said: “I don“t think new floodlights will help my cover drive, but the landscape of cricket is changing massively and the thing I love about Kent is that the club doesn“t merely want to exists, they want to evolve and move forward.
“Things like this redevelopment plan are crucial to that. Cricket is changing and we have to make sure we are right at the forefront, so this scheme will really help us move forward over the next few months.
“After a really tough year on the field, it“s really encouraging to me to see how quickly things have gone in the last week. At last we“re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel and I can now see Kent as a thriving club in years to come.”
Picture: Sarah Ansell