Manuka Oval is on the verge of the biggest facelift in its history as the ACT government considers building a hotel on to the back of the Bradman Stand, aiming for the work to be complete in time for the Twenty20 World Cup in 2020.
The government finalised a land swap for the Canberra Services Club last week, more than three years after the 65-year-old building on Canberra Avenue was destroyed by fire.
The deal has paved the way for the government to begin a major upgrade of Manuka Oval, which will host three Cricket World Cup games starting with a sell-out clash between Afghanistan and Bangladesh on Wednesday.
The government allocated more than $3 million in the 2012 budget for the design of a $35 million redevelopment of Manuka Oval, including new Hawke and Menzies Stands, a hotel and cafes.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr wants cricket to have a constant presence in the capital, and will likely bid for hosting rights for the Twenty20 World Cup in five years at an upgraded Manuka Oval.
"That site [of the Canberra Services Club] is right on Canberra Avenue and the National Capital Requirements for a rebuild on that site are for a significant building," Barr said.
"It's a big commercial development opportunity. Either the proceeds of the sale of that land can be invested in upgrades at Manuka or we'll do a development deal with a commercial partner.
"What we're looking for is activity in that precinct every day, not just on event days. That's what we're hoping for over the next five years."
A new rectangular stadium with a roof in Civic has been put on hold while the government pays for the Mr Fluffy asbestos clean-up but officials are pushing ahead with making Manuka Oval an attractive ground for international cricket and AFL matches.
Manuka Oval has been transformed in the past two years, with new lights installed to make the ground capable of hosting night events.
The capacity is being gradually increased to 19,000 and the turf was re-laid last year in preparation for World Cup matches.
Canberra landed a major coup in securing hosting rights for the Big Bash League Twenty20 final this year, despite not having a team in the competition.
The move drew criticism from cities of the competing teams, but Barr is still hopeful Cricket Australia will see the benefit of scheduling the final in Canberra.
If Cricket Australia decides against the BBL final in the capital, Barr wants to secure a regular season match before focusing on the Twenty20 World Cup.
"We need to assess when work can and can't occur, what infrastructure is necessary for particular events and who the best development partners might be," Barr said.
"It is coming together quite well, we've taken some big steps. We're certainly going to be active in seeking to bring major events to Canberra fullstop. Sport is a part of that.
"All of our research for the major events has shown that Canberrans value having the events and 90 per cent support ACT government investment in major sports.
"One important part of the Manuka Oval upgrade puzzle was having access to that site [of the Canberra Services Club] and it will trigger a redevelopment of the Hawke and Menzies Stands, on-site commercial catering and kitchens, an on-site hotel and club."