The cash-strapped club is financially dependent on putting on international matches at the ground, and the installation of permanent floodlights at international match venues is soon going to be made mandatory by the ICC (International Cricket Council).
“Therefore the provision of permanent floodlighting is essential to ensure that International cricket, including Test Cricket continues at Headingley,” says a report drafted for a meeting of one of Leeds City Council’s planning panels on 30th January.
Yorkshire’s agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for the staging of international games expires in 2019.
The club wants to erect four 58m-high floodlights (lighting panels 14.5m wide by 8m high, sitting on top of 50m columns) as soon as it can, if possible by the start of the 2015 season. But that will depend on getting planning permission from the council and securing finance.
The ECB may provide the club – which is some £20m in debt – with some of the around £1.8m it’s going to need to install the floodlights, but “additional funding will be required”, says the report.
The lights will be powered by a new electricity sub-station that’s planned to be built behind the ground’s northern stand.
They won’t be used on more than 20 match days per season and won’t be on full power after 10pm.
Size, siting and light-spill
No decision on the application is going to be taken at the meeting next week. It’s just an initial opportunity for councillors to comment on the plans.
“It is considered the scheme needs to be thoroughly appraised in relation to the effect on the living conditions of existing residents by reason of the size, siting and light spill associated with the floodlights and in order to preserve or enhance the setting of the adjacent Headingley Conservation Area,” says the council officers’ report.
The club put the plans on public display at the ground for a total of six hours one weekend last November. Twenty-seven people went along, 17 filled out a questionnaire and 64% of them were in favour of the floodlights, but there were “concerns over the size, siting and whether the flood lights could be mounted on telescopic columns “.
The club says it has looked at telescopic columns, but they wouldn’t be viable as they’d cost around £3m and there wouldn’t be space for the larger footprint of the foundations.
If the club encounters any problems in progressing the plans, one wag on the White Rose cricket forum has an alternative:
“There are, sadly, thousands of miners headlamps no longer in use throughout the county. One each as you come through the turnstile and we’re sorted. Stuart could operate a searchlight from atop the scaffold for spotting the doosers (sic) and googlies. I don’t mind lighting the odd candle and praying for a Yorkshire win – wouldn’t be the first time.”
While we’re on the subject of the Headingley ground, didn’t the club get permission from the council this time last year to hold a number of big weekend gigs at the ground in 2013 and 2014? Didn’t they have an “international artist” lined up for a concert last June?
I wonder what happened.