WORK will begin this autumn on a new £10m Hilton hotel at Durham County Cricket Club, after the club raised nearly £5m from wealthy individuals.
The region’s top cricket club has received a £4.8m shot in the arm from two private investors, one of whom is Indian media mogul Gautam Radia who, with his brother Hilem, have invested £2.4m in the club.
Durham are now looking to raise a further £2.2m from private investors and the Government’s Regional Development Fund (RDF) to help fund its expansion with the building of a gateway building and conference centre, which are hoped to dramatically boost its finances. Club chairman Clive Leach said: “We are well on and are very close to finalising the deal on the hotel and we would expect to start construction in autumn this year.
“We’ve also assigned funds to additional permanent seating that will be complete in the next six to nine months, in time for next year’s Ashes Test, which will bring a huge amount of revenue to the club.
“We’re now looking for a further £2.2m to get our conference centre and banqueting suite under way. Our target is to return to profit in 2013 and this can be achieved by not only hosting next year’s Test match, but also through outside business such as conferences and seminars.
“The recent Tom Jones concert was also a huge success, bringing 8,000 visitors to the stadium. We hope to host at least one or two of these big concerts on a yearly basis.”
The club announced the development of the 150-room hotel and further fundraising plans shortly after it unveiled its annual financial report, which showed that it had made a loss of £1.5m in the 12 months to the end of September last year, compared with a £1m loss a year earlier.
In its latest accounts, the club expressed concern that the success of the national team is being achieved at the expense of county clubs.
It said that it expected to see an operating loss for the next year and would not post a profit until 2013 when it will host its first Ashes match against Australia.
During 2011, a season when Paul Collingwood returned to the squad, Durham finished third in the County Championship and were semi-finalists in the CB4O and quarter finalists in T20.
Further on-field highlights included Dale Benkenstem becoming the club’s leading first-class run scorer, as well as Ben Stokes and Scott Borthwick making their England debuts.
However, despite an impressive on-field performance in the 2011 season, the club’s turnover fell from more than £5.5m to £4.9m last year.
A breakdown of turnover reveals match income accounted for £900,979 of sales, while commercial activities and sponsorship brought in a further £1.2m, and the distribution from the England and Wales Cricket Board £2.2m – all of which were down on the previous year.
Durham CCC are currently halfway through a five-year development plan and chairman Clive Leach said a lot of the club’s working capital had gone into essential grounds maintenance work, including a new drainage system which is now ranked as one of the best in the country.
The club said it looked forward to the current season with real optimism and that the reported loss was in line with expectations and consistent with the results of other venues staging international cricket, excluding those hosting Test matches, in the year.