30,000 plus? Sports minister Andrew Barr thinks the crowd target is achievable if Manuka Oval was to host a Test match. Photo: Melissa Adams
Move over Hobart, we're after your spot on the Test match calendar.
Not content with securing the city's inaugural visit from the Australian cricket team, ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr has cheekily declared Canberra would draw bigger Test match crowds than the pitiful showing in the Tasmanian capital over the past five days.
Only 17,360 people walked through the Blundstone Arena turnstiles for the first four days of the Test with Sri Lanka, which finished in an exciting Australian win on Tuesday.
Exorbitant ticket prices, with the cheapest adult seat starting at $43, have been blamed for the sluggish turnout, before prices were slashed to $10 for the final day.
Buoyed by an expected sellout for the historic one-day international between Australia and the West Indies at a revamped Manuka Oval on February 6, Barr had no doubt Canberra could push for a Test match within the next three years.
He will meet Cricket Australia officials during the Sydney Test match early next year to push Canberra's case of entering the calendar as early as the summer of 2015-16, when Australia will host separate three-Test series against New Zealand and the West Indies.
''I'm certain we would get a bigger crowd against Sri Lanka than they are currently getting in Tassie, certainly around the novelty of having a Test match,'' Barr said.
''Without wanting to pick on Tassie in any way, we have to say they're not going to achieve their crowd targets of between 24,000-28,000.
''The issue would be we'd have to negotiate something with Tasmania, whether they have first bidding rights for that or you have to pay them to move the game.''
Barr predicted a Test match at Manuka Oval would be a sellout on the opening day, estimating an overall crowd of at least 30,000 for the five days.
The main purpose of his trip to the SCG next month is to discuss the ACT's bid to host games in the 2015 World Cup in February and March that year, but a Test match in that following summer is also firmly on the agenda.
Canberra is perfectly poised to host its maiden Test match at the end of 2015. The next stage of upgrades to Manuka Oval will be completed, including digging up the ground and moving seats in closer, which will boost capacity by 1500 seats to 15,000.
The next two seasons will feature just five and four Tests against England and India respectively, with a one-dayer or Twenty20 international the best Canberra could hope for in that period.
Cricket ACT chairman Ian McNamee played a straight bat when asked about the possibility of bringing Test matches to Canberra.
"Cricket ACT is focused on successfully delivering the PM's XI and ODI to support our Big Bash League bid,'' McNamee said in a statement.
''Cricket Australia may well consider Manuka Oval in future years to host further international matches.''