THE home of Hampshire cricket wants fans to help raise nearly £2 million as it looks to complete a controversial redevelopment.
Bosses at the Ageas Bowl have made 260 five-year “Diamond Debentures” available for £7,500 each, entitling participants to six per cent annual interest and tickets to at least 12 international fixtures.
The scheme was announced just days after the Daily Echo revealed how the company behind the spectacular venue lost more than £3million last year.
News of the financial losses came after Eastleigh Borough Council agreed to plough £30m of taxpayer funds into a luxury hotel at the ground and hand over £6.5m for the lease of the 167-acre site.
Council bosses say the investment is secure while Rose Bowl PLC said redevelopment costs, high staging fees for international fixtures and poor weather on match days had been factors in the financial losses.
The club, still celebrating cup victories in the domestic Twenty20 and CB40 competitions this season, says its debenture scheme has been rolled out to help with “re-financing” during completion of their redevelopment.
Last night it was revealed that Australian spin legend and former Hampshire star Shane Warne had already become a holder.
The club is also offering so-called ‘Diamond Cluster’ packages for £70,000 providing exclusive access to a private suite for 10 people on match days.
Australia, India and Pakistan will be among the international teams visiting the West End ground in the years running up to 2016. The Ageas Bowl’s allocation of internationals in 2017 has yet to be revealed.
It is the second time such debenture schemes have been rolled out at the club. In 2009, fans were offered Platinum, Gold and Silver versions of the deal.
Club chairman Rod Bransgrove said: “The Diamond Debenture makes great sense from both a sporting and financial perspective.
“A six per cent annual interest payment is very compelling, while we know that Diamond subscribers will get the chance to watch international cricket from the best seats in the house.
“It has been an exciting six months for all at The Ageas Bowl and we look forward to seeing this iconic venue fully developed and ready to host the best cricketers in the world.”
Shane Warne, whose old side has now jetted off to South Africa to begin Champions League Twenty20 qualification, added: “The Ageas Bowl is a magnificent cricket stadium and is my cricket home in England.
“I was saddened and disappointed when it was overlooked last year in the Ashes Test Match awards and I wanted to show my support in a practical way.”