WORCESTERSHIRE chief executive David Leatherdale is optimistic New Road will be ready to host first-class cricket from the early part of May 2013.
The County have requested permission from the England and Wales Cricket Board to play all of their April matches away from home in a bid to buy enough time for the redevelopment work at New Road to reach a sufficiently advanced stage that cricket can be staged by May.
The fixtures are due out next week and Leatherdale is confident the County’s headquarters will be operational by May — although the building work on the club’s new cricket facilities will not be fully finished until June.
Work on the accompanying Premier Inn hotel that is being built on the site will continue throughout the season with a projected completion date of October next year.
Leatherdale said: “We have had about four weeks of demolition now, which has gone relatively smoothly and we now have the full contractor on site and they started last week.
“As far as our facilities — such as the new entrance, turnstiles, conference facilities, executive suites and new bars — are concerned, we are looking at early June, so it will be slightly delayed but it was always likely to be the case that we wouldn’t hit the start of the season.
“Cricket-wise we are still very hopeful that matches in April will be played at our opponents’ grounds, which will give us a little bit of time to be operational at New Road — although not fully open — by early May.”
He added: “We might have a couple of friendly matches here in April with an open ground policy, but when it comes to full matches as a paying customer, then we are probably looking at the first or second week in May.
“That won’t mean that members and spectators will have less cricket at Worcester — they will still have 50-plus days, including the Australia tour match and a couple of other ‘A’ games that we will be scheduling.
“It’s a tight schedule and we are all aware that the Twenty20 will start around late June and we have the Australia game in July, which are key dates that we have to be up and running for.”
Leatherdale also revealed the new development’s eye-catching frontage — built at a cost a quarter-of-a-million pounds — will provide an impressive welcome to the club.
He explained: “Between us and Premier, the open plaza area at the front of the ground is costing about £250,000. We have created our enterance, which is seperate to theirs and is called Worcester Way.
“We want to smarten the ground up. The new entrance will certainly be striking.”