Trent Bridge: Knocking it out of the park
After the challenges of the pandemic, the iconic Trent Bridge Cricket Ground is very much back in the game, with a packed schedule promising an outstanding year.
The hallowed name of Trent Bridge is known to sports fans across the globe as one of the meccas of world cricket. But did you know that the world’s third-oldest test match ground actually started out in life as a humble cricket pitch round the back of a pub?
Even more astonishing, that pub – now known as The Old Trent Bridge Inn – is still in existence and forms an integral part of what is now an iconic 17,000 all-seater cricketing stadium.
Trent Bridge Commercial Director Michael Temple tells us: “legend has it that William Clarke, captain of the Nottinghamshire cricket team at the time, married the landlady of what was then called The Three Horse Shoes and Crown.
“Clarke persuaded his wife to convert a meadow behind the pub into a cricket pitch. The first ever cricket match at Trent Bridge was then hosted in 1838 and eight years later, in 1846, Clarke formed the All-England Eleven, the first ever English national cricket team.
Trent Bridge then became only the third ground ever to host an international Test Match, which was between England and a World XI. The first two grounds were Lord’s and The Oval, so we’re in historic company!”
To a nation steeped in beer and cricket, Trent Bridge is more than just a sporting stadium: it is a national treasure. And it’s one that Greene King is proud to supply.
“We work with Greene King on an exclusive basis for the supply of all of our draught beer as well as some packaged beer,” says Michael.
DRINKING GREAT BEER IN WARM SUNSHINE WHILE WATCHING TOP QUALITY CRICKET IS A FUNDAMENTAL PART OF ENGLISH LIFE.
“We’ve been working with them for the last 10 years and I’m proud of the progressive partnership we enjoy.”
Trent Bridge has, of course, changed dramatically over the centuries. These days it’s a huge, sprawling venue with 130 permanent staff and up to 1,000 on match days, mostly in food and beverage and security. #
Michael’s team operates up to 20 individual bars (with 145 tills) and offers numerous dining experiences including the spectacular Six restaurant, a sixth-floor venue offering fine food, creative cocktails and a breath-taking panoramic view.
“There’s no escaping the fact that Trent Bridge is a highly seasonal venue,” says Michael. “Summer is hectic, as you can imagine. We host cricket matches on around 50 days each season, including Championship matches, The Hundred matches, the Vitality Blast matches, women’s matches and, of course, Test Matches.”
Trent Bridge is one of only eight grounds licensed to host Test Matches and typically hosts six days of international cricket each year: a five-day Test Match and a limited overs match. In addition, it is home to Nottinghamshire Cricket Club and The Blaze, its new women’s team.
“So we’re flat out all summer,” explains Michael, “but we do work hard at ensuring the venue is used all year round. Fortunately, tickets for the international matches go on sale in October for the following year, so that provides vital cash flow for the winter months, but we do operate a public restaurant four days a week in the closed season, and we host a lot of events like the Robin Hood Beer festival which attracts over 15,000 people every year.
“We also convert the hospitality facilities to host corporate events and we’re very popular as a venue for Christmas parties and so on, so we keep busy all year round – but the summer is when the venue really comes alive.”
And what would a day at the cricket be without beer?
“Beer is very important to us,” laughs Michael. “In fact, one of the most important decisions we make each year is on the range and pricing for the next season. At the moment we’re particularly focused on delivering value as well as quality for our guests.
WE’VE BEEN WORKING WITH GREENE KING FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS AND I’M PROUD OF THE PROGRESSIVE PARTNERSHIP WE ENJOY.
“We work very closely with Greene King and they’re very supportive and flexible, particularly in terms of introducing us to partner brands. Products like Greene King IPA and Guinness will always be vital brands for us here, but we also try to keep up with modern trends and offer our guests a choice of interesting beers.
“We’ve introduced Level Head and Flint Eye and we also have Estrella Galicia. In our Six restaurant we offer the Belhaven packaged range because we wanted to offer something a little more unusual to our diners. Greene King also helped us move from Stella 4 to Amstel and to bring Stowford Press cider in.
“It’s a great working relationship we have, and they have been true partners. They have invested in Trent Bridge in various ways, and they have been there for us. It just works.”
The challenges of the pandemic hit Trent Bridge hard, but Michael is confident that the venue has come through that series of challenges and is facing a bright future.
“Covid smashed cricket, it really did. The Championship season was cancelled in 2020 and even when sport did return, it was under difficult circumstances. One of the oddest days of my life was watching Notts win the T20 Blast in a silent, empty stadium.
“Trent Bridge was one of the first venues to re-open after Covid under government trials but it was really, really challenging. We hosted an international against Pakistan and had to individually check the Covid passports of 12,000 people and issue them all with wristbands, one at a time!
“But we knew that we had to go through that phase. We had to rekindle and maintain our audience’s interest in cricket, even if it was only on a TV screen, but by doing that we managed to secure future funding from Sky which is really important for the sport.
“We were determined to restore Trent Bridge to what it is: an historic cricket ground where people can come and have a great day out with friends and family.”
Michael also says he’s grateful that, post-pandemic, fans seem keener than ever to get out and join in the fun.
“I know we live in changed times, and there a lot of so-called ‘digital natives’ out there who are more interested in living digital lives and people who’d rather watch sport on TV, but the demand we’re seeing for tickets reassures me that there’s still a lot of people around who want to get out into the real world, meet up with other people and have a beer in the sun watching a great game of cricket.
“The funding we receive from broadcasters is vital for our sport but to my mind nothing beats getting down to a real stadium and watching live sport unfold in front of your eyes.”
So is the future looking positive, then?
“Absolutely,” concludes Michael. “We’re well and truly back in the game now and 2023 shaped up very nicely. We had a T20 against New Zealand, an ODI against Ireland, Notts were back in Division 1, The Blaze played in their inaugural season and we had the first ever women’s Ashes Test in June. It was indeed a very special year!”