Jubilee Oval lobbies to host Thunder

Jubilee Oval, the Sydney home ground of the St George Illawarra NRL team, is believed to be among several stadiums keen to host the Sydney Thunder Big Bash League team next summer.
Nanjing Night Net

The Thunder will be locked out of their headquarters for most of the new season because ANZ Stadium is a venue for football’s Asia Cup – one of the sport’s major international events outside of the FIFA World Cup – which kicks off on January 9 next year.

The Thunder will officially open the tender process for stadiums to host matches this week but Fairfax Media understands representatives of the Sydney Showground, Manuka Oval in Canberra, Blacktown International Sportspark and Jubilee Oval have expressed interest.

It was not the first time Jubilee Oval, the Dragons’ home ground since 1950, has been positioned to stage cricket matches. A few years ago, when former NSW opening batsman Steve Small worked for the St George group, a plan was developed to establish the ground as the Twenty20 base for the NSW Breakers women’s cricket team.

”We looked into drop-in pitches and it would’ve been ideal,” said Small, who now coaches the Penrith first-grade team. ”It’s similar in its dimensions to North Sydney Oval and I think it’d be great for T20.”

In recent times, Jubilee Oval has also been used by Sydney FC to host trials for their men’s A-League team and matches involving their women’s side, while the World Cup-bound Socceroos adopted it as a training venue. However, cricket would open a new frontier for the stadium, which was redeveloped over the last decade through multimillion-dollar grants provided by the federal and state governments.

Sydney Thunder chief executive Nick Cummins would not confirm which organisations were jockeying for the home ground rights when contacted by Fairfax Media.

Picking the new Thunderdome would not be an easy decision after the franchise recently revealed most of its supporter base is in the north-west suburbs of the city, including Kellyville, Castle Hill and Baulkham Hills.

The franchise’s management is mindful the Thunder could lose that support if they play at a ground deemed too far for the ”heartland” to travel.

”We will be making the decision on the basis of three criteria,” Cummins said. ”Financial, the interests of our fans, and cricket facilities and suitability.”

He said that looking after the team’s ”heartland” would be a priority and that this included ensuring the winning venue was easily accessible by public transport.

Other venues that could bid to become the Thunderdome in 2014-15 include North Sydney Oval, the Sydney Cricket Ground and perhaps even Drummoyne Oval.

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