On the eve of Canberra’s historic first test match, the ACT Government has committed $2.7 million for further upgrades to Manuka Oval in an attempt to make Canberra’s premier cricket and AFL oval into the best boutique venue in the country.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the Government’s investment will go towards new roof canopies at the northern and southern ends of Manuka Oval which will provide shade for up to 1,000 seats.
Mr Barr said he believes the new upgrades to the 13,550-capacity venue will lure more elite, international cricket, AFL and other major events to the nation’s capital.
“Manuka Oval is a great place to watch live sport and these upgrades create an even better experience for AFL and cricket fans, and have put Canberra on the map as a host for world-class sport,” Mr Barr said.
“This commitment will be delivered as part of our mid-year budget update, so it is an early pre-announcement.
“We surveyed local residents and spectators at the ground to prioritise improvements that will make Manuka Oval a better venue, and the survey results clearly showed we needed more seats under cover.”
Construction will be completed by the end of this year and will be scheduled to avoid clashes with the three GWS Giants fixtures at Mauka Oval this season. Mr Barr said the upgrades will reduce the costs of staging major events and said the Government’s investment into Manuka Oval was with a long-term view.
“It’s not going to hundreds of millions of dollars, and the intent here is not to turn Manuka Oval into a mini-MCG,” he told gathered media on Tuesday morning (29 January). “Manuka Oval will remain the best boutique cricket and AFL venue in the country and will respect the heritage of this venue.
“Our intent is clear that we will be progressively investing to improve this facility.”
The commitment to expanding the number of shaded seats at the venue comes after Manuka Oval’s four-storey media centre was opened last month, thanks to the Government’s $11.6 million funding.
Mr Barr said the Manuka Oval precinct will receive further investment to improve the facilities in the coming years, with toilet and concession facilities highlighted as a priority by the GWS Giants and AFL Canberra.
“The Manuka Oval Master Plan highlights the eastern precinct as one that would be in need of further investment, so that would be an area we’re looking to focus on in the coming period,” the Chief Minister said.
“We are also cognizant of the need to invest in toilet facilities and concession facilities and the sorts of things that improve fans’ matchday experience. We’ll continue to work with cricket and the AFL to work through the list of agreed priorities.”