“Developing New Sports Stadia Post The Credit Crunch” – Patrick Cannon

November 7, 2011

1. Introduction

The £30m redevelopment of the Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham which was completed in July 2011 demonstrates what can be achieved post the credit crunch if the basic principles which underpin successful stadia development are followed.

The redevelopment of Edgbaston involved the following:-

  • Construction of a new pavilion end on the south side of the ground bringing the capacity up to 25, sale 000.
  • New conferencing and hospitality suite for 700 people.
  • New executive boxes.
  • Ultra modern playing, allergy corporate, office and medical facilities.
  • Five floodlights which will provide lighting for 15 days of cricket each year.

The basic principles which were followed at Edgbaston are summarised below.

2. Experienced Developer

MCD Developments Limited were selected by Warwickshire County Cricket Club as their preferred development partner in autumn 2008 due to their experience of handling major City regeneration schemes on time and on budget.  MCD’s main objectives were to ensure delivery of a new cricket pavilion, newly and centred extended seating as well as new conferencing, banqueting facilities and exhibition space and also to deliver an enabled mixed use commercial leisure and residential development on the surrounding 9.6 acre site.  There were extremely tight timescales to complete the cricket facilities by spring 2011, ready for the England –v- India International Test Match.  However, MCD’s experience enabled them to secure a detailed planning consent for the stadium work within six months to allow a start on site in the first quarter of 2010.

3. Design – Fit for Purpose

Although Edgbaston’s facilities have been critically acclaimed, MCD ensured that the development costs were kept under control whilst still delivering the functionality and quality the club required.  This led to slight modifications to the original design to ensure best value for money.

4. Enabling Development

The development of a new stadium on its own would not have made commercial sense.  Accordingly, this resulted in an enabling development being put together over several phases comprising circa 225,000 square feet of residential, 60,000 square feet hotel, 60,000 square feet retail A1/A3/A4, 150,000 square feet of offices and 350,000 square feet of car parking.  The total investment value of the completed scheme is over £140 million.

5. Debt Finance

The impact on the local community arising from the re-development of Edgbaston, enabled Warwickshire County Cricket Club to obtain support from Birmingham City Council.  The support of the local Council is one of the most important aspects of stadia finance these days.  This funding was then topped up by financing from other tried and tested sources.

6. Naming Rights

A six year deal was signed with Jaguar and reflected in the name of the new corporate hospitality facilities as “The Jaguar Club”.  This is a good example of how it is possible to secure a naming rights deal of part of a stadium which allows flexibility in branding, creates the possibility of multiple rights deals and awards technical problems of branding the whole stadium.

7. Debentures/Premium Seat Licences

Alongside The Jaguar Club, the Executive 1882 Club was set up, named after the year the club was formed.  The Jaguar Club comprises corporate boxes plus sold/licensed seats.  It hosts 100 members including famous names such as the former England and Aston Villa Manager, Graham Turner.  Each member pays an annual sum and receives a comprehensive package in return.

8. Non Match Day Revenue

The new entertainment facilities at Edgbaston should result in a significant increase in non match day revenue aiming to turn the stadium into a 365 day/year venue.  It is this incremental revenue which gave Birmingham City Council the comfort that it required to enter into the financial support package.

This development is a “win win” for all concerned.  Warwickshire County Cricket Club now play cricket in one of the best stadia in the world.  Birmingham City Council now has an iconic landmark in the city which will help promote Birmingham on the world stage.

Patrick Cannon, Head of Sports Group

Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP


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