Out With the Old, In With The New
Plans are a foot to move Wimbledon onto the neighboring golf course and rebuild a new 8000 seater main stadium. It will still be Wimbledon however as they are only moving a kilometer or so.
As the sporting world moves on with modernising their venues we are losing the heart and soul of the sport. I grew up living between Newlands Cricket and Rugby grounds in Cape Town so I have seen how those grounds have changed. The Rugby ground has moved so that historic venue has been lost to a business park. I used to walk past this stadium every day on my way to school and new the problems the structure had as it caused sinkholes to appear in the road due to the weight of the grand stand.
Newlands Cricket ground has been heavily developed losing the world renown Oaks, Willows and the Plains seating area. The atmosphere has changed as the entire ground is different and has lost the quirky things that made it world famous. You cannot replace the history as you lose it as soon as you tear the old buildings down.
I was watching a sporting documentary a few days ago which mentioned the Scotsmann's Grandstand which made me chuckle as those are also known as the free seats. When I was a kid I used to sneak into the grounds as I knew their weak points being a local. The cricket ground was easy as I used the tennis courts at the end of the ground to obtain access into the venue and I am sure that has all been demolished now and replaced with stands.
The original Scotsman's grandstand was found at Carisbrook Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand. The railway bank with a level top provided a free view for fans that had no tickets. Because the Scottish are legendary for being tight with their money this vantage point became known as the Scotsman's grandstand.
The stadium was demolished in 2011 and has been replaced by the Forsyth Barr stadium which opened the same year as the Carisbrook Stadium was demolished. Unfortunately you start to lose your roots when this modernising happens as the nostalgia is lost as the new stadiums have no soul.
What was funny is the Scotsman's Grandstand made an appearance at the World Cup in 2011 at the Eden Park Stadium. Temporary wooden stands had been erected to help increase the ticket numbers and took on the name of the Scottish grandstand for the following reasons.
These stands were quickly and cheaply erected to do one job only as there were no toilets , no snacks and if you wanted any of those facilities you had to leave the ground. Temporary toilets and refreshments were all outside the ground and were the cheap tickets with no perks.
Sydney Cricket ground got it right keeping a mix of old and new keeping the history intact.
Certain sporting grounds will never be demolished due to their status and what they represent to the sport. Places like Lords (cricket) are seen as symbols for their sport and can never be rebuilt or relocated as it would never feel the same. I think each country has these types of grounds where you would hope they are safe as we know nothing is safe these days and who knows what will be left standing in the next 50 years.
I understand the need for having more seats available and sporting teams outgrowing their current venues as sport is big business. Just think Arsenal moved from their beloved Highbury which must have been influenced by the number of fans on the waiting list for season tickets. Reportedly they had over a 10 year wait with numbers exceeding 40 000. For some teams that is more than their stadium capacity so it is revenue being lost each week.
Sport is in more demand than ever and expect the old being replaced with the new and their will be no more Sottish Grandstands available where the non paying public can get a view of the action.
I think a lot of the time it’s not just about adding more seats, it’s about all the hospitality, bars, eateries, etc. that they want to add in to generate even more money. Going to watch live sport used to be primarily about the sport itself, now it’s packaged as an inclusive “experience” that can be sold to a wider market.
Shame about Newlands but for the most part, cricket seems to be doing the right thing by keeping historic elements of the ground and developing around them and some of the modern design at grounds like the Adelaide Oval, Lords or Old Trafford are impressive in their own right.
I’ve always fancied taking a trip to Galle to watch the cricket on top of the old fort there. I assume it’s free or at least you just pay to enter the museum. You only ever see English fans up there baking in the heat but then you know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen …
Hospitality is big business now and I agree the concept of watching sport has changed as it is a day out with all the trimmings thrown in.
It's all about business, and if you have more business , you need to have more space to host many people as you want. Formats like t20 or t10 has increased the demands of these grounds and also the audience has increase massively.