County officials and a few dozen supporters of the international sport of cricket gathered in western Henrico on June 8 to mark the beginning of construction of the Deep Run Park Cricket Field.
Crews started site work in June on a $648,900 project to renovate three multipurpose fields to create a cricket field that includes a clay pitch, cricket batting cages and other features.
The pitch — the bowling area at the field’s center that is roughly equivalent to a baseball infield — will be built to the standards of the International Cricket Council. It will be the first pitch on a county cricket field designed to meet ICC specifications, said Neil Luther, director of Henrico’s Division of Recreation and Parks.
Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman and Three Chopt District Supervisor Tommy M. Branin, whose district includes Deep Run Park, explained that cricket is as much a social occasion as it is an athletic activity.
“Cricket is much more than a tennis match or a basketball game,” Branin said. “It is actually a community event. The games bring out not just the players, but families as well.
“The idea here is to create a community field that is welcome to everyone for the best experience,” he said.
County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said the Deep Run field will be a strong asset for the county’s sports tourism program. He also noted that the field’s construction indicates significant changes in the county’s demographics over the past two decades.
“Those choosing to call Henrico home represent more than 100 countries, just within our school system,” Vithoulkas said. “The design of this new field is a physical example of our county’s growing diversity and your government’s desire to provide inclusive services and facilities for all residents.”
The existing multipurpose fields currently are terraced, with each measuring 180 feet by 330 feet. The project will grade the fields to provide a level surface across the site. In addition to batting cages, the project will install new natural grass, banked seating, an irrigation system, storm water drainage and other improvements. It also will upgrade walkways and paths.
The new field will be able to accommodate soccer and other activities. Construction of the 7-acre project is expected to be finished in September.
Henrico officials initially discussed constructing a cricket field at Deep Run as projects were being planned for the 2016 bond referendum. Officials ultimately decided to accelerate the project, with the Board of Supervisors awarding a contract for construction in May.
In addition to Deep Run, Henrico has cricket fields at Holladay Elementary School, Dunncroft/Castle Point Park and Capital Park. The field at Holladay is expected to close in September as part of construction to expand the school. The field at Dunncroft/Castle Point is slated to undergo improvements beginning this winter through next June.