Essex want Twenty20 cricket at Olympic Stadium

Essex chief executive Derek Bowden has said the club are keen to play Twenty20 fixtures at the Olympic Stadium.

West Ham will be the main tenants of the venue from 2016.

But the Chelmsford-based club are eager to discuss the possibility of hosting T20 games at the Stratford arena.

"We regularly sell out at Chelmsford. We'll sell 7,000 for a Twenty20 game on a Friday night. There's an opportunity to take cricket down to East London," Bowden told BBC Look East.

Multi-purpose cricket stadiums

Eden Park
  • Melbourne Cricket Ground: The Australian 100,000-capacity venue has hosted football as well as cricket
  • Moses Mabhida Stadium: Located in Durban, South Africa, the 54,00-seater stadium was a World Cup venue that also hosts cricket
  • Eden Park: Auckland's 50,000-capacity stadium hosts rugby union and rugby league and has a removable cricket pitch
  • Westpac Stadium: Capable of holding 36,000, the Wellington venue hosts football, rugby union, rugby league and cricket
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium: Football and cricket are played at the 70,000-capacity stadium in Kochi, India

"East London is actually part of the region Essex County Cricket Board is responsible for in terms of grassroots cricket.

"We'll hopefully speak to West Ham, in the next few weeks. I would think towards the end of April, early May we could meet with the West Ham management to see if there is any viability."

Bowden's predecessor David East suggested in 2010 that the Olympic Stadium could become a Twenty20 venue for the county.

While the Hammers have been named as the anchor tenant for the Olympic Stadium, the decision over whether to allow cricket to be played at the venue is likely to lie with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), the organisation overseeing the transformation of the arena.

There are also plans to host rugby matches at the London 2012 site, with the Rugby World Cup in 2015 an aim.

A spokesperson for the London Legacy Development Corporation said: "The Stadium will become a multi-use venue so we are open to additional uses including cricket provided they can fit alongside other concessionaires such as West Ham United and UK Athletics.

"We will be creating a process for interested parties to submit proposals for one-off events such as Twenty20 cricket matches."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the chairman of the LLDC, is keen to encourage a diversity of sports at the Olympic Stadium and has welcomed Essex's interest.

"I've said repeatedly that the stadium is something for everybody in London and everybody in the country," he told BBC London 94.9.

"It is a national asset. We are going to make sure it doesn't just have association football, although that is going to be a glorious part of it with West Ham.

"We are going to have other events as well. We are still trying to make it fit for the rugby, but we can't be confident that will work for 2015. If we can get some cricket in that would be fantastic as well."

Chelmsford to Stratford

Essex's Chelmsford home is less than 30 miles away from the Olympic Stadium

England captain and Essex batsman Alastair Cook has also backed the proposal.

"It would be fantastic for Essex to be able to play at the Olympic Stadium," Cook said.

"East London has a huge amount of participation in cricket and taking the game there would benefit Essex as well.

"As a player, it would be fantastic. It would have to be a Twenty20 game. County Championship matches should be played at Chelmsford or at the festival at Colchester.

"You want to play in front of good crowds befitting of the stadium. With Twenty20 you have got a chance of getting 10,000 or 15,000 there which would make it a good atmosphere."

West Ham intend to reduce the stadium's capacity from 80,000 to 60,000, but Bowden believes crowds of at least 20,000 could be accommodated for cricket.

"We would need to look at the financials as well as the logistics, but 20,000 people watching Twenty20 cricket on a Friday night would make for fantastic entertainment," he said.

"It can work for cricket. There is obviously a cost attached and that is something we would need to look into very clearly.

"Technologically it can be done."