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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Sage Swinton

Take a look at the upgraded No 1 Sportsground

Newcastle District Cricket Association competition administrator John Bailey, councillor Peta Winney-Baartz, lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Newcastle City AFL Club co-president Courtney Knight at the new look No 1 Sportsground. Picture by Marina Neil

The $8 million upgrade to No 1 Sportsground is finally complete in time for cricket season after a long wait.

The works included lighting upgrades, a rebuilt turf including irrigation and drainage, new player dug outs, seven new cricket wickets, new sight screens and additional bleacher seating.

The 101-year-old ground has also been expanded to the minimum size for high level AFL and cricket fixtures.

Newcastle City AFL club co-president Courtney Knight said they hoped to attract AFLW matches as a result.

"We're really hopeful that we can play a really big part in the Swans AFLW future," he said. "The AFLW has made a conscious effort to really integrate their national teams with regional areas. Newcastle is a part of the Swans catchment."

Both AFL and Newcastle District Cricket Association haven't used the ground for several seasons. The upgrade project has faced lengthy delays, including more than 100 lost work days due to weather, while council cited "supply chain interruptions" as a further setback.

Cricket competition administrator John Bailey said it was "fantastic" to have the ground ready for the 2022/23 summer, with the lights allowing them to play twilight matches for the first time.

"Newcastle City are very lucky to have it as their home ground and us to use it for finals," he said.

Extra lighting would be needed for televised cricket matches such as T20 Big Bash and Sheffield Shield. Cr Nelmes said temporary infrastructure could be brought in, but indicated council wouldn't pursue permanent TV-grade lighting.

"If we wanted to go for a high level Big Bash event, it's completely normal even for other regional grounds that you roll in the extra infrastructure," she said.

"It's likely that if you only do one of those big events a year, at the level of lighting you need, you probably wouldn't want 10 poles that weren't being used to their capacity.

"That type of infrastructure can be rolled in for a one off event."

Another requirement for the higher level fixtures include new amenities and media facilities, which council is seeking grant funding for as part of stage two works to the grandstand.

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