Lancashire County Cricket Club
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Boroughs vie for Urban Cricket Centre investment

Charlie Schouten

The three cricket and community centres, backed by the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Combined Authority, will be built across Greater Manchester with six boroughs already expressing an interest.

Announced as part of a wider investment in cricket across Greater Manchester, the Urban Cricket Centres will repurpose existing sites into community centres focussed on indoor cricket facilities, sports and education use.

According to analysis from the ECB, each centre would be used by 2,500 per hear across sport and other activities and will act as a “catalyst” for community use.

Working with the GMCA, the ECB is now searching for sites to deliver the three centres over the next three years. Six Greater Manchester boroughs have expressed an interest to date: Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, and Trafford.

Options for the sites could include regenerating former industrial buildings or re-purposing existing buildings, or new-builds. The ECB is looking to work with local partners and councils on financial investment, identification of sites, and different community projects that could be run from each centre.

The ECB is to run an exercise to identify the optimum three sites across Greater Manchester with delivery of the centres to begin next summer.

To support this, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority is looking to provide £600,000 over three years towards the programme, which also includes extensive skills, education, and training initiatives for sport and wellbeing. This £600,000 will be sourced from business rates.

The GMCA said funding for the urban cricket centres would “vary depending on the proposed site and ambition for each facility,” and added: “districts interested in hosting a centre would need to work with the ECB and other partners to develop a business case, including longer-term funding”.

The cricket centres will be linked to the broader One Public Estate for each borough. The UK’s first urban cricket centre opened in Waltham Forest, London, in June this year. Two further pilots are in development across the country.

The GMCA is to approve the £600,000 funding package at a meeting on Friday. The initiative has also been supported by Lancashire County Cricket Club.

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