The ICC Cricket World Cup

 It is powerful opportunity for a country to hold an international event such as the recent ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand.

A record crowd of 93,013 watched the ICC CWC Final, a showdown between the co-hosts at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a fitting finale to a tournament the ICC Chairman, Mr Narayanaswami Srinivasan, described as the “the most popular in history” .

The focus on Australia and New Zealand by the Indian Sub-Continent was immense during the competition with general admission tickets for the match between arch-rivals India and Pakistan in Adelaide selling out within 12 minutes of going on sale.

In India itself, the ICC CWC 2015 turned out to be the most watched event in the history of Indian television, with more than 600 million cumulative viewers.

Such a captive audience is a wonderful chance to show off the best of a country, or two in this case, to both the “live” audience at the matches and the ever growing “digital” audiences around the world, encouraging and developing both business and tourism links.

The Event itself is also another opportunity for the host country to consider the facilities needed and find the balance between temporary and permanent infrastructure – to satisfy the Event, the budget and the long term needs of the community.

Worldwide interest in Major Sporting Events such as the ICC Cricket World Cup continues to grow. Over the seven weeks of the 2015 tournament more than one million spectators passed through the turnstiles of 14 venues in Australia and New Zealand.

On social media, an unprecedented 36 million unique visitors were attracted to the ICC website – a 10-fold increase on any previous ICC event.

In such a highly developed market, most infrastructure for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup was permanent. But it doesn’t have to always be the case.

One interesting exception this year was Hagley Oval, in the heart of Hagley Park in Christchurch, New Zealand, a city recovering from the devastating earthquake of 2011. Skilful Overlay planning and temporary infrastructure transformed a treasured parkland into a temporary international arena in the heart of the city which could be returned to its natural grassy state afterwards.

Staging the high profile Cricket World Cup naturally drew the crowds and so the event also became an important step in helping the city’s regeneration after the earthquake, and gave Christchurch positive exposure to the world.

Even in some of the world’s most developed countries temporary infrastructure has proven the right solution for a major event. London and the 2012 Olympics truly challenged the concept of building permanence creating temporary installations in the centre of the city where permanent construction would never be allowed.

Sport was played with the historic city as the backdrop – beach volleyball in Horseguards Parade and equestrianism at Greenwich Park.

The crucial step was to consider legacy many years before the event took place and set up the right infrastructure to ensure all development was holistic and legacy was managed from the very beginning.

The essential ingredient at Hagley Oval and in London during the Olympics was to stage the Event in the heart of the city.

Our work at Populous on a number of these Major Events has been about making a true connection with the city, planning for the long term usefulness of venues, creating great crowd atmosphere and capitalizing on the uniqueness of the event.

The long history and traditions of cricket is, in part, what makes it so unique, allowing designers to capture what is different and special within each individual ground, from great historic grounds such as Lord’s or the MCG, to the more boutique Westpac Stadium in Wellington, NZ, a ground designed specifically for cricket 15 years ago. 

The Noise test is the ultimate success barometer at a cricket ground. Good design can mirror the effect of the legendary roar of a 93,000-strong MCG crowd at the 34,000 seat Westpac Stadium, although on a smaller scale.

As designers, creating atmosphere at a cricket ground is one of the greatest challenges, because the field is so large and the grandstands dispersed and often disconnected. It means we have to look at every innovation possible to create the best atmosphere.

Populous has worked on the MCG and Westpac Stadium and is currently designing the second phase of the Masterplan for the redevelopment of Lord’s, replacing the Tavern and Allen Stands, while currently also working on the new Warner Stand at the Ground.

We are working to retain what is best about the atmosphere and history of Lord’s while modernizing and improving the spectator experience.

At all cricket grounds the uniqueness of the game is reflected in a number of other ways. The game takes all day, if not five days, and its regular breaks allows much more movement of spectators around the ground than at other events.

This includes making use of the concourses in interactive ways, providing opportunities to engage with fans to a much greater level, and ultimately driving more revenue for the stadium.

The ICC Cricket World Cup saw an influx of visitors from around the world to Australia and New Zealand, providing even more opportunities such as tourism, as well as developing business links in a much more relaxed environment than normally exists.

There are also opportunities to engage the “remote” audience in special ways during a cricket match. One of these is to make the best use of the “players’ race” and build spaces where fans and cameras can get close to the players.

The cameras can follow players off the field. Another unique feature of cricket is that almost half the players are off the field at any one time, another opportunity for the cameras and fans to engage with the players.

The off- the- field players can become much more visible than at present so that they become a bigger part of the action.

Designers can play a big role not only in searching out ways to make those unique features of every sport more accessible to both the live and remote audiences, but also in working with the host city organisers to envisage the long term civic benefits.

A city should strive to make the Event work for the long term benefit of the community, with the right mix of permanent and temporary facilities, and in this way international events can become accessible to developing countries everywhere.

This article first appeared on isportconnect.

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