At a meeting today, the Council’s City Strategy Committee voted unanimously in favour of spending $7.7 million to strengthen the stand and refurbish it.
The building and grandstand is yellow-stickered and, apart from the museum on the ground floor, has been closed to the public since 2012. The building would have to be demolished by 2022, if not strengthened.
A recent engineering report showed the stand’s life could be extended by another 50 years.
“The logical choice is to preserve the heritage of the city,” Mayor Justin Lester told the committee.
"Due to cricket coverage, the Basin Reserve has been seen by millions of television viewers around the world and the stand currently projects an image of decay which reflects badly on the city. Any plan to demolish the stand would most likely be fought in the courts.
"There was zero percent chance the work would be affected by the Let’s Get Wellington Moving transport strategy," he adds.
The expected cost to Council will be $6.7 million, with the Basin Reserve Trust contributing another $1 million.
The strengthened and refurbished stand will return the main entrance, staircase and exterior to the original condition. The stand’s public toilets will also be upgraded with two new accessible toilets. The funding will come from a reprioritisation of the Basin Reserve Redevelopment budget, meaning no new money is needed. There will be spaces for the Cricket Museum and Cricket Wellington offices.
Councillor Peter Gilberd backed the decision to strengthen the stand. “Since the engineers say it can be saved, we owe it to future generations to save it. It would be cavalier to bowl it,” he says.
"Mt Cook was a heritage gold mine and the stand could be part of it. However, it needed to be open to the public for them to be able to appreciate," he adds.
History of the Museum Stand
- The Museum Stand was opened in 1925, replacing the original Caledonian Stand that was built in 1868. The cost of the new stand was £16,710 ($1.6 million today). The 94-year-old stand is a Category 2 Heritage Listed building.
- The Edward Dixon Clock that was installed in the first grandstand, the Caledonian, was moved to the new stand and is still there.
- The downstairs area of the stand was used as a boxing gym in the late 1930s and 40s.
- The Museum Stand was so named when the NZ Cricket Museum was opened in 1987.
- The Basin Reserve is one of New Zealand’s most historic sporting grounds. In 1998 it was registered by Heritage New Zealand as a Historic Area, the first sports ground to be recognised in this way.
- Although the Basin Reserve is primarily a cricket ground, over the years it has also hosted hockey, rugby union, rugby league, football, cycling, rifle practice, band displays, dog racing, baseball, lacrosse, softball, open-air religious services, concerts, opera, jamborees, military displays and political and royal visits.