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Hampshire confident of India Test despite construction delays
Work on the development of Hampshire's Ageas Bowl ground, including the construction of a hotel and media centre, has been halted after the contractor went into administration. Hampshire, however, are confident that the delays will not impact on their ability to host England matches, with a Test against India scheduled for 2014.
Rod Bransgrove, Hampshire's chairman, said that there had been "plenty of buffer built into the programme" and that the immediate priority was to minimise the impact to local subcontractors, after developer Denizen ran into financial difficulty. The ECB confirmed it had been in contact with the club and would monitor the situation but was not currently concerned about the staging of matches next summer.
"We're not anticipating any problems," Bransgrove said. "We've already spoken to and are in contact with potential step-in builders. We're fine in terms of scheduling, we had plenty of buffer built into the programme, so in terms of meeting our obligations for the summer we don't think they're going to be affected at all."
A new Hilton Hotel forms the major part of the development and that may now not open in time for the 2014 season, as had been planned. While the hotel is 75% complete, the state-of-the-art media centre - which, unlike the hotel, would fall within the ECB's remit - is "virtually finished", Bransgrove said. An inspection was made by the ECB's major match group in September and a further visit is planned before next season to assess the ground's readiness for India's arrival on July 27-31, in what will be only the second Test match Hampshire have hosted.
The Ageas Bowl project, which includes additional conferencing and hospitality facilities to help expand Hampshire's business outside of cricket, is one of many in which counties have been assisted by their local councils. The £48m development has benefited from an investment of £38.5m by Eastleigh Borough Council, which anticipates 500 jobs and £50m in extra annual revenue for the local economy being created.
A Hampshire statement said: "Whilst there will inevitably be a short delay to the opening of the hotel, funding to complete the project remains in place and the process to replace Denizen as the main contractor is already underway. This development will not affect the ground's ability to host major events in 2014."
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here