Queensland Cricket Chief Executive Officer Max Walters today supported the stance of Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland yesterday that the Gold Coast could play a role in an expanded KFC Big Bash League.
“There’s been a deal of work happening behind the scenes with several interested parties like the Gold Coast Council and Metricon Stadium and its management, and Queensland Cricket is pleased with the progress being made,’’ he said.
“We should be clear though that we’re looking at the Gold Coast in terms of additional matches that can be played in Queensland rather than taking content away from the Gabba where the Heat have proven so popular, including a record-breaking series last year.”
“Growing the Big Bash, and making cricket the best sport for fans, is one of the game’s strategic priorities and the prospect of playing BBL games at Metricon Stadium during the peak summer holiday period in such a vibrant region is very exciting,’’ Walters said.
The Gabba hosted five sell-out Heat games in BBL|06, with the semi-final super over thriller against the Sydney Sixers setting a BBL crowd record for the Gabba of 35,116. In total, 171,801 fans came through the gates to watch the Heat, with a season average of 34,360.
Visiting the Gold Coast yesterday as part of the national Play Cricket roadshow that will see the CA CEO visit each State and Territory to play a form of cricket, Sutherland expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of delivering elite cricket content to the region.
“We have always had our sights on playing more cricket here on the Gold Coast,” Sutherland said.
“Metricon Stadium was built with cricket pitches in mind. With the Commonwealth Games happening, we are looking ahead to see what might be possible.”
“The Big Bash League is going through some expansion this season with more matches, so we’d like to think we can bring some BBL games to the Gold Coast, and maybe some international cricket, down the line.”
“With the BBL, we’ve always said we’ll expand the number of matches before we look at teams, so Heat matches would probably be the most likely scenario.”
“My sense is that all of the parties are willing and there’s good, strong sentiment in favour of this happening.”
Brisbane Heat General Manager Andrew McShea said both the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions had played significant roles in the popularity of the Heat in recent seasons.
The Sunshine Coast will again host pre-season BBL games this summer, with Brisbane taking on the Melbourne Renegades in the ‘Sunshine Coast Smash’ on Friday December 15 and Saturday December 16 at John Blanck Oval.
“Our ticketing information shows that the Heat draw heavily from the northern corridor to the Sunshine Coast and corresponding southern corridor to the Gold Coast,’’ he said.
“The Heat are certainly keen to test and grow those markets and would welcome the opportunity to play in the first BBL and WBBL games at Metricon Stadium if that possibility arises.”