Plans have been outlined for the development of Nevil Road into an international sports venue.
A 20,000 seater stadium and "world class" media centre are the integral parts of the plans to ensure international cricket stays in Bristol beyond 2011 - now while this is essential for the long-term development of Gloucestershire CCC, all that comes to mind is that such ambitious plans are fraught with danger.
Obviously, it is impossible to comment properly until one has seen the full details, but a plan such as this has to be so wonderfully thought through with much sensitivity in order to retain the identity of the Shire; no-one wants the soul to be sold, as we have seen at Glamorgan, who have been left with a football ground and many frowns from the cricketing fraternity.
One has to wonder why anyone would want to create an international sporting venue in the middle of a residential area with no parking and relative inaccessibility to major public transport routes, particularly, as has been touched on before on this blog, when generating revenue outside of sporting events plays an integral part of the profitability of sporting venues and conference and banqueting makes up a large part of this.
Tom Richardson has talked of achieving the best within the restrictions of the site, and the mention of Nevil Road being the Glos' home for the past 130 years gives a nostalgic angle for staying on in BS7; the reasoning is purely financial, given the deal with Royal & Sun Alliance on the ground and the obvious advantage that a clean slate elsewhere would bring.
Being one for history, romance and tradition, I would welcome a plan to see the Grace gates included in a plan to provide the best future for the Shire, and a deal to include student accommodation is an innovative way to help achieve that. But further innovations will be required to ensure Nevil Road retains it's county ground status and not morph into a superdome.
On a recent visit to New Road, I glanced around and admired their developments: the tasteful contemporary new pavilion and the modest Basil D'Oliveira stand and envisaged a similar development at Bristol - tasteful is the key, and I have my concerns as to how 20,000 seats can be tastefully raised.
However, I believe that with the space available to develop at Nevil Road - pavilion end aside, there is a pretty large plot to work with - a facility can be arranged that could achieve international sports venue status while maintaining some quirks that a county cricket ground deserves: a balance that must be appropriately achieved.