Otago Cricket and Otago Polytechnic join forces to develop International Centre of Cricket Excellence

Media Release - Tues 5th May

05 May 2020

The Otago Cricket Association is leading an innovative and exciting project, the creation of a $1.1 million world class cricket and education facility, the Otago International Centre of Cricket Excellence, in Dunedin.

Otago Cricket Association chief executive Mike Coggan says the aim of the project is to provide a facility which will entice promising school leavers and domestic cricket players from New Zealand and overseas to live in Dunedin, play and develop their cricket through a professional cricket academy while studying towards an academic and vocational qualification.

 The organisation has established an official partnership with Otago Polytechnic which would provide the education component to the programme with the view that students would graduate with education qualifications that support their future career aspirations. 

“This project has evolved as a result of our long running partnership between Otago Polytechnic and Otago Cricket, and the associated scholarship programme.  Both organisations are excited about the prospect of building a unique year-round opportunity for aspiring cricketers from within New Zealand and overseas to receive a tertiary opportunity embedded within a high-quality cricket performance environment,” Coggan explains.  

Otago Polytechnic Director: External Relations Mike Waddell says the tertiary institution is excited to be involved in the project, which promises to benefit the city and potentially Otago and Southland regions.

“This vision not only benefits Otago Polytechnic and Otago Cricket, but also greater Dunedin, its culture, vibrancy and economy and the wider region through the attraction of young New Zealand and international students who are seeking quality education and cricket opportunities,” Waddell says.

The partnership’s priority is to establish the facility, a giant greenhouse housing 12 to 14 grass wickets on land at Logan Park.  Otago Cricket has made a submission to this year’s Dunedin City Council (DCC) annual plan for land currently being used for tennis courts at Logan Park to be made available to develop the new facility.  Tennis Otago is gifting the land back to the DCC as it creates a new tennis development.

“Important to the success of this project will be the build of a facility that can host winter training on quality grass wickets,” Coggan explains. 

“New Zealand Cricket’s winter training programme at Lincoln has been a resounding success and offers year-round training for aspiring cricketers.  Adding a similar facility in Dunedin aligned to quality tertiary opportunities will provide Dunedin and Otago with a unique point of difference, one that adds to the social and economic fabric of our region.” 

As well as developing players, it is envisaged the Otago International Centre of Cricket Excellence will also support the development of coaches and officials (national and international) at various levels through tailored programming by qualified staff and private contractors. This supports Otago Cricket’s performance and talent vision of not only developing BLACKCAPS and WHITEFERNS players, but international-quality game officials.

Otago Cricket has worked closely with Sport Otago, through a contracted partnership to ascertain all relevant information pertaining to the suitability of this site for the intended purpose.

It would look to fundraise for capital for the project, currently estimated to cost about $1.1 million.  The capital together with annual operating costs are included in a proposed budget for the development, which will be presented to the DCC today.

Coggan acknowledges one aspect not factored into the project was Covid-19.

“We recognise our plans are being launched at a stressful time for our city, region and country. However, after careful thought about timing of this application, the board believes it is important that we push forward with our plans to secure land. 

“We are seeking nothing else at this time, other than permission from the DCC to house our project at Logan Park on land currently housing some tennis courts closes to Harbour Terrace. We can then continue to make plans to fund and build our centre over the course of the next couple of years.

“Although this project will possibly be slowed down due to what we are all currently experiencing, both organisations are committed to progress and it will therefore assist significantly, knowing we have the DCC support for the site of the proposed facility.”     

The Otago Cricket Association believes this facility will attract people to live in Dunedin and contribute to its economy and vibrancy.  Otago is the smallest Major Association in New Zealand Cricket by playing numbers and depth of talent and includes two of New Zealand’s smallest District Associations.

“To remain relevant and to ensure cricket maintains meaning, continues to capture the interest of people from Otago and Southland and sustains competitive flagship men’s and women’s domestic sides, we need to do things that are different and innovative,” Coggan says.

“We expect many of these students will then stay and build depth and strength to Otago Cricket – adding genuine quality to the Dunedin cricket club ecosystem and our performance programmes -and graduate with education qualifications that support their future career aspirations.”