Somerset fans get up close and personal with new pavilion

PC2Somerset fans got the chance to see progress on the construction of the new pavilion for themselves during yesterday’s pre-season T20 friendlies against Gloucestershire.

The club expects the new building to be ready in time for the final championship game of the season against Warwickshire on 22 September and are in discussions with Sky TV with a view to televising the game.

Speaking about the pavilion project at the club’s recent media day, chairman Andy Nash said: “The Somerset pavilion is really taking shape now. It will be open for the last game of the season. We’re at the stage where we’re anticipating Sky will be televising that, so it will be a very good opportunity for the club.

“It’s the pavilion that clinches Category B status for the county. So in just two years we look forward to welcoming England v South Africa for a T20 international and then the World Cup in 2019, which will really put Taunton on the world map of cricket.”

Anyone visiting the ground yesterday for the pre-season friendlies will have seen that building work is progressing well at the St James’ Street end. The new building is starting to rise from the ashes of the much-loved old pavilion; its shape clearly etched into the skyline by the steelwork. It’s an impressive sight.

SAM_0005Sean Johnson, the site foreman for contractors R G Spiller of Chard is very pleased with the way that the work is progressing. He told the club website: “Things are coming on pretty well as far as we are concerned.

“Now we have the canopy roof in place and are starting on the roof of the media centre, so we are moving along well. The section panels are going on well and so is the brick laying where the lower levels have been formed.

“We have concluded the lower concourse including the toilets and will soon have completed the ground floor. We can then increase our resources and move onto the first floor.”

The new temporary press box was is in place ready for yesterday’s friendlies and much of the car park that was in use for the initial building stages has been resurfaced and is back in use.

SAM_0022Sean went on: “We have now handed back the car park to the club as we said we would so that they can make use of that space again. The terrace units are now in, which is one of the big risk elements out of the way, so we are still pretty much on programme 26 weeks in, so it’s all looking quite promising.

“The weather has been quite good to us this winter and now we are coming to the time where we have to interface with the cricket season.”

The site foreman has been boosted by news from the players about which he said: “The Somerset Pavilion seems to have been warmly received by all of the players that we have spoken to which is good to hear from our point of view.”

He added: “Everything is looking pretty good at the moment from my point of view. In fact there are no minuses at all, which is great to be able to say.”

SAM_0009Meanwhile, in his pre-season message to members and supporters, Somerset Chief Executive Guy Lavender said the club would not let the development work detract from fans’ enjoyment of the cricket this season.

He said: “Conducting a season with a major development underway is always challenging but we will not let it detract from delivering the best experience we can to you our members and supporters.

“We are very mindful of ensuring the minimum disruption of the build programme while cricket is underway. While we shall not stop work completely during play, we will minimise noise wherever possible and address any issues immediately with our excellent contractor, RG Spiller.”

Lavender gave further details of parking during the 2015 season: “As I am sure you will understand, parking within the County Ground will be reduced this year due to the Somerset Pavilion construction. We will continue to provide a limited number of disabled parking spaces which can be booked in advance through reception as is in previous years (Tel: 0845 337 1875), but general match day parking will be very limited.

“Outside of the ground it is important to note that the public car park in Priory Bridge Road is now closed for development. However, there is substantial public parking available on the market square which is now operated on a pay and display basis by a private operator. You are able to purchase an all-day ticket.

“Please note that the car park can only be accessed by vehicle through Canal Road (first turning on the right as you go past Morrisons) but the club will open a pedestrian route across the “blue bridge” to make it easier to get to the ground both before and after matches. There are of course a number of parking options available across the town centre and these are summarised in the car parking information guide (provided by Taunton Deane Borough Council), which I thought you would find helpful. In regard to park and ride, we are hopeful of agreeing extended bus services to coincide with the completion of our major matches; in particular the Natwest T20 Blast and we will of course provide further details if that comes to fruition.”

Turning to other matters, Lavender said all of the ground entrances will be open but it is worth noting that it will not be possible to circumnavigate the ground. A 600-seat temporary stand will be in place to provide additional capacity adjacent to the Andy Caddick Pavilion to compensate for the reduction in seating capacity while construction continues.

The 12th Man Bistro will be open on all match days providing a range of food options and initial access through the bistro into the ground for members and ticket holders will be possible on County Championship days but not for one-day matches. In addition, the club will be opening the Somerset Stand Bar to provide additional capacity when required for County Championship games. All the other food and beverage provisions remain largely unchanged from last year.

  • The photographs of the new pavilion (above) were taken by Steve Jennings during the club’s media day on 17 March 2015.