Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom says the Irish government will begin “serious discussions” about the support it will provide to help make a new national cricket stadium a reality.
Deutrom believes Ireland’s hosting of the 2030 T20 World Cup has piqued the government’s interest.
But he says that work on the headquarters of the National Sports Campus should start next year so that it will be ready by 2030.
Deutrom said the government has “fired the starting gun” to start talks.
“There’s a long way to go, but it’s a very important step,” Deutrom told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.
“The government confirmed in November the intention to build a stadium in due time.
“For us it was about ensuring the level of urgency that the next out-of-class cabin would be developed as quickly as possible and the government’s announcement about that at the weekend was obviously huge because it means we will be able to seriously look at the viability of it.”
Stadium plans announced in 2018
Cricket Ireland originally announced plans for a new stadium at the Sport Ireland Campus in Dublin in 2018, but the project was always going to be dependent on significant government funding and Deutrom believes the chance of that happening is now significantly closer.
“The government has a policy to attract big sporting events, so I have no doubts [co-hosting the 2030 T20 World Cup] It helped focus the government’s attention to make sure, here’s a reason we don’t lose,” he added.
“When the government is looking at its list of major events, the Rugby World Cup, the European football championship, obviously the Ryder Cup at Adare Manor in 2027, it will all be or would be held outside the Nationwide Sports Campus.
“We offer the opportunity to bring the second biggest sport in the world, its main event to the National Sports Campus, and I think we can bring that as a point of difference in probably every other major sport.”
The world-class facilities at the National Sports Campus already include the National Aquatics Centre, while planning permission for a new indoor velodrome was granted earlier this month.
In November, Irish Sports Minister Jack Chambers said the Sport Ireland Campus should be “the home of Irish sport” and Deutrom says Cricket Ireland’s vision is in line with that.
“The vision we have has to be very closely aligned with Sport Ireland’s and the government’s own vision for campus infrastructure, which will be ‘world-class’,” he said.
“Realistically, we’re not looking at a 90,000-seat MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) and probably a 50,000-seat one like the Aviva Stadium as being ambitious.”
Deutrom noted that 8,000 people attended the two Twenty20 internationals against India in Malahide last June.
“We sold out in 24 or 48 hours. We always ask ourselves, ‘what if we kept selling and how far would we go for our biggest games?’
“When you consider that the broadcast spread of those games was around 200 million worldwide. Those are probably numbers that other sports only dream of.
“It’s the biggest sport in the world for about 20-25% of the world’s population, so we’re a very, very significant sport.
“And in a way what we’re doing is using our global visibility to push the sense that it’s a major sport here.”
“Over £1 million is spent on temporary facilities every year”
Cricket Ireland spends more than £1m each year building temporary facilities at its current international venues – Malahide, Stormont and Bready.
“If we could invest that in people and programs and help our clubs develop their own infrastructure, it would be a much better use of our money,” Deutrom added.
“There’s also the environmental impact of trucks transporting temporary equipment across the country.”
Deutrom says the volume of international cricket in both the men’s and women’s games at senior and junior levels and the various inter-provincial competitions means the current venues will be needed for international competitions.
“We play over 80 games at professional level, so it’s important to reassure other players and venues across the country whether it’s Stormont, Malahide, Bready that we will still need their facilities.”