HAMPSHIRE is set to host its second Test match today.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to the Ageas Bowl in West End over the coming five days as England face India in the Third Test of the five-match Investec Series.
Captain Alastair Cook takes part in England's training session at the Ageas Bowl yesterday.
The prestigious honour of hosting a Test match has been welcomed by the leader of the local council.
Council leader Keith House said: “I’m delighted that our borough will be the focus of the cricketing world for these five days and I’m sure that local cricket fans together with thousands travelling from further afield will have a great time at the Ageas Bowl experience.
“It will also provide a major boost to the local economy and I hope that everyone will enjoy the experience and facilities offered by our borough.”
The council will be carrying out plans for temporary coning of residential areas and traffic management arrangements are over all five days of the match.
Streetscene staff will be undertaking additional local patrols as will parking patrol officers.
Road closures will be in place at the end of each day to help pedestrians and vehicles leave the site.
This was supposed to be the weekend when a new luxury Hilton hotel at the home of Hampshire cricket could bask in the limelight of the world stage but it remains a building site.
The Hilton hotel at the Ageas Bowl remains a building site.
A six-month halt in construction means that the 175-bed facility is now set to open in March 2015 – a year behind schedule.
Council and ground bosses say the project is progressing on track and there have been no significant setbacks, though workers did have to make the building watertight.
The structure is now complete but needs fitting out.
Cllr House said the delays could actually be an advantage because it meant contractors could take their time to make sure the work was done to the highest standard.
Eastleigh Borough Council leader Keith House.
He said: “We haven’t lost any money because we haven’t paid any money, we’re getting a product that’s a higher spec product than we would have got for the same amount of cash, so the council will end up better off as a result of the delay. The hotel will be finished to a higher standard. We’re paying 2012/2013 prices for the 2015 product.”
Efforts in recent weeks have successfully focused on ensuring the new media centre would be ready on time for the Test match this weekend.
As previously reported by the Daily Echo, work at the construction site for the hotel, which is underpinned by taxpayers’ money, came to a sudden halt last October after contractors Denizen were plunged into administration.
Following complex negotiations work restarted six months later, when it was announced that Hampshire-based Powells Group Ltd had taken on the project.
Meanwhile, the Co-operative Bank, which had been funding the upfront building costs, stepped back and a new funding body, Omni Capital, was brought in to provide the necessary cash.
It had originally been hoped guests would be staying in the hotel by March this year, well in time for the Test match.
When complete, Eastleigh Borough Council has promised to buy the hotel for £27.4m and the Liberal Democrat-controlled council has reiterated that it will not pay any more than the sum agreed.
The council also bought the ground the hotel sits on for £1.1m and the lease of the 167-acre site for £6.5m in 2011.