Aucklanders will come to know soon if they will be served with a treatise of watching an epic cricketing contest this summer between the Black Caps and India, twice during the Auckland Anniversary long weekend.
The Indian cricket team is scheduled to visit New Zealand in summer this year to play two Tests, three One Day Internationals (ODIs) and five Twenty20 International (T20I) matches.
The interest within the cricketing fans and the Kiwi-Indian community towards this series, and in particular the two consecutive T-20 contests planned in Eden Park during the Auckland Anniversary long weekend, which also coincides with India’s Republic Day celebrations, is already up the roof.
“My wife is a nurse and most likely to be at work during that long weekend and given that we will be unable to get away from Auckland there is nothing better than going to watch cricket with friends and family,” Jagan Pillai a cricket enthusiast told the Indian Weekender.
Akshay Golwala, a tertiary student who has been in the country for less than a year and works part-time in an advertising company, is looking forward to the Auckland anniversary long weekend for the first opportunity to watch cricket between two of his favourite teams at the iconic Eden Park stadium.
“I have grown up watching cricketing contest being played at Eden Park stadium in our television sets back in India,” Akshay said.
“Watching cricket matches being played in New Zealand on our television sets in India, most of the time required waking up very early in the morning that almost all cricket fans would recall fondly.”
“I am really excited to be eventually watching a match live in Eden Park stadium this summer, and the offer of having an India festival in and around the stadium to coincide with Republic Day will be an added incentive,” Akshay said.
There is much anticipation in the community that the currently under-progress resource consent application process will eventually bring the good news for the sporting fans.
Eden Park is seeking resource consent from the Auckland Council to be able to host the cricket match on a Sunday night, first time ever in their more than hundred-year-old history.
The final hearing of the resource consent application is scheduled for Tuesday, October 8, when the commissioner will mull upon on an earlier released Council’s 42A report that has recommended that “the application be consented to, subject to certain conditions.”
The hearing report was released on Friday, September 13, which revealed that overwhelming 96 per cent submissions had favoured the Sunday night contest on January 26, with only 27 submitters voicing opposition against the match.
Eden Park is New Zealand’s largest stadium and has been the home of Auckland Cricket since 1910 and Auckland Rugby since 1925, boasting of some of New Zealand’s proudest sporting moments.
However, lately, the stadium has come under a lot of financial duress because of Auckland Council restrictions that prevent most of the late-night events.
Eden Park is allowed to host 25 night time events each year as well as six concerts (for which separate resource consent is required), but they have time restrictions and no fixtures are allowed on Sunday nights.
Eden Park’s continued economic contribution is largely dependent upon the number and type of sporting and entertainment events it can host, and attendance numbers generated as a consequence.
In this regard, it is expected that as a result of hosting two short-form cricket matches between India and the Blackcaps, Eden Park and New Zealand Cricket expects an annual direct spend by audiences of $1.4m and 5,000 visitor nights.
Notably, last summer Eden Park was unable to stage two international fixtures with India, due to television demands requiring play outside permitted hours.
This is when Blackcaps’ 2018-19 season had delivered some ground-breaking viewership statistics (274-million viewership reach across India) showcasing New Zealand both locally and in India.
It is expected that the Auckland Council will deliver a decision approximately three weeks from the conclusion of the hearing.