St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Grounds St George's Park - The Firestone Pavilion
The Firestone Pavilion
Jenny Cullum

A R200,000 multi-purpose indoor cricket centre and pavilion were proposed to be built at St George's Park, ready for use by June, 1988.

Click image to enlarge
A military parade at St George's Park cricket field during World War II. In the background the standing room only stand can be seen that later became the "Non-European" stand. The basic metal structure was retained to cut costs and utilised in the new Firestone Indoor Cricket Centre when it was built in 1987.

But the building that eventually appeared was a far cry from the one we see today.

The building had a completely different look and the garish red writing was left off.

The new building was to make Port Elizabeth the second centre for indoor cricket and the only city in the country with indoor nets at its headquarters.

Click image to enlarge
The proposed Firestone Indoor Cricket Center

Indoor cricket had caught on spectacularly in many parts of the world at that time.

Eastern Province Cricket Union president Colin Rushmere said he understood that there were as many indoor cricket centres as squash complexes in Australia.

The centre, which was planned to create an old English cricket pavilion atmosphere, was to incorporate the old stand on the south side of the field.

Click image to enlarge
Studying a model of the Firestone Indoor Cricket Centre to be built at St George's Park are (from left) EP cricket captain Kepler Wessels, EP Cricket Union president Colin Rushmere and Bill Taylor, managing director of Firestone Tyres.

"It will beautify and greatly improve facilities at the ground. The old so-called "coloured" stand - a relic of apartheid - is being demolished," said Mr Rushmere.

"Improvements will include a grassed embankment so the ground's spectator capacity of 16,OOO will be increased."

Four indoor nets - two with full length run-ups - for coaching and practice throughout the year - were to be housed in the double-storey centre.

Click image to enlarge
Builders worked frantically in November 1987 to ready the new pavillion at St George's Park cricket ground for the Nissan Shield match. Here the EP Cricket Union director, D Trist, left, and Tim Shaw survey the field.

An enclosed gallery was to run the full length of the upstairs floor. The gallery was planned to have a press box and seating for about 150 people and will be a prime viewing spot directly behind the line of the bowlers.

On the ground floor, catering facilities were planned, as well as seating in two areas for hiring out for parties of VIP guests.

Click image to enlarge
TOP NOTCH IMPROVEMENTS ... The Firestone Pavilion undergoing its revamp, including the provision of a brand new media section.

Sliding doors with a view over the playing field were proposed. Each section would be able to accommodate about 100 guests. They were to replace the tents that were hired out for guest groups.

At other times, these areas reverted to cricket practice nets.

The main work on the buildings was not expected to begin until the end of the 1987/88 season. This would ensure that there was no disruption of Port Elizabeth games, "I feel this centre will enhance the grounds and give fresh impetus to the game," Mr Rushmere said.

The indoor cricket practice nets would enable players at all levels and ages to get far more year-round practice. Coaching would continue throughout the year in all weather and at night.

In 1987, cricketers were using the indoor nets at the University of Port Elizabeth.

Click image to enlarge
The Firestone Pavilion

The Firestone Indoor Cricket Centre was named after the Eastern Province Cricket Union's sponsors.

In 2002, another floor was added to make more room for the media in time for the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

Eastern Cape Mirror
Website Researched by Ivor Markman
Webmaster Darryn van der Walt

Please Sign Our Guestbook

For replies, click on "Contact Us".

Copyright 2006 Ivor Markman / Darryn Van Der Walt / The Herald / Weekend Post / All contributors / . All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of site content, by any means including by electronic, printed, audio or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Ivor Markman. The contributors shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. The St George's Weathervane Dragon is copyright.