Sporting highlights of the Canberra Centenary
Lauren Jackson and Patty Mills pull on their Australian jerseys for the first time in their home town of Canberra. Photo: Rohan Thomson
ACT Minister for Sport Andrew Barr will launch an aggressive bid to lure big-ticket events, including Test cricket and Davis Cup tennis, to Canberra when he meets officials in Sydney and Melbourne next month.
In an attempt to ensure the centenary of sport legacy lives on, Barr is confident upgrades at Manuka Oval and the National Sports Club in Lyneham gives Canberra significant bargaining power to host international events.
Hosting Test-match cricket in Canberra will be at the top of the agenda when Barr and Cricket ACT meet Cricket Australia at the Ashes Test in Sydney.
ACT sports minister Andrew Barr. Photo: Jay Cronan
He will also meet Tennis Australia officials at the Australian Open to discuss the possibility of the capital hosting Davis Cup matches.
There was speculation Canberra could replace the WACA Ground on the Test-match schedule in 2015-16, due to fears the Perth ground no longer meets international standards.
Barr said he was ''certain'' Manuka would attract bigger crowds than Hobart's Bellerive Oval after an Australia-Sri Lanka Test was poorly attended last year.
New Zealand and West Indies play three-Test series in Australia in 2015-16, and Barr said he ''won't die wondering'' when he meets Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland.
''It [hosting a Test match in Canberra] remains on the agenda and I'll seek further understanding of tour schedules, [and] where we sit with the WACA and Bellerive,'' Barr said.
''I always thought the six-Test summer gave us the best chance, I am being assured by those in the cricket hierarchy our venue is now being taken seriously.''
Manuka hosted Australia in a one-day international for the first time this year after broadcast-quality lighting was installed at the ground.
''I've been given the very strong impression we won't have to wait another 100 years for quality international cricket,'' Barr said.
''Our approach is to be ready [to host a Test match] and to fully understand what else we need to do.
''I don't have a firm sense of what our chances are but we won't die wondering, we'll ask the question.''
Tennis ACT is poised to return to the Australian Pro Tour schedule by 2014-15, with a $20 million redevelopment of the National Sports Centre due for completion late next year.
Barr said Davis Cup and Federation Cup ties would also be on the agenda when he meets Tennis Australia in Melbourne on January 19.
Their cause could be helped by Canberra youngster Nick Kyrgios' Davis Cup debut this year, while Australian Federation Cup captain Alicia Molik has backed Canberra to host ties.
''We'll meet with the Tennis Australia guys and have discussions about what opportunities the upgrades will present to bringing national and international tennis back to Canberra,'' Barr said.
''When we decided to invest in Lyneham, we had discussions with Tennis Australia on what they could bring to the table and what financial support they could give.
''We wanted to make sure if we made the investment it would leverage support from them.
''Next month is a chance to take those discussions to the next level.''
Barr said Canberra had proven its legitimacy through bums on seats and now had the facilities to host more regular big events.
''There was speculation at the beginning of the centenary that with so many sporting events on, the community wouldn't be able to support them all,'' he said.
''The crowd figures demonstrate if there's quality sport in the city, it will be supported.
''That gives us confidence in working with the various sports to bring events back.
''We've got a role to play and it's different to Sydney and Melbourne, but we should be on the calendar for these events.''
Barr admitted the Australian Women's Golf Open at Royal Canberra, the one-day cricket, and Australia-New Zealand netball all required government subsidies.
But he said the development of venues to increase capacity and corporate facilities will reduce the need to do so in the future.
Upgrades are also on the agenda for the Narrabundah velodrome and Narrabundah Ball Park, home of Australian Baseball League side Canberra Cavalry.