SPORT: Sydney Sixers take on Perth Scorchers in the T20 Big Bash League at Manuka Oval in Canberra. Fireworks go off in the grandstand. 28th January 2015. Photo by Melissa Adams of The Canberra Times. NEWS: The crowd during the T20 Big Bash League at Manuka oval in Canberra where Sydney Sixers take on Perth Scorchers. 28th January 2015. Photo by Melissa Adams of. The Canberra Times.
Nanjing Night Net

Canberra Big Bash bid officials hope a sell out crowd at Manuka Oval in January will be the perfect way to show Cricket Australia how serious the capital is about having its own team.

The Sydney Thunder clash against the Melbourne Renegades at a resurfaced Manuka Oval is officially sold out almost two months before the game.

It’s a major boost for Canberra’s hopes of impressing Cricket Australia officials after a group of business men and women launched a bid for a Big Bash licence.

The consortium hope the cricket community rallies behind their proposal and vote with their feet for the Thunder-Renegades men’s and women’s double header and Canberra’s first Test next year.

“The sell out demonstrates what we’ve said all along – there’s a strong appetite in Canberra for premium cricket content,” said bid leader Mark McConnell.

“In some ways, it doesn’t matter who’s playing. People just want to support more content in Canberra.

“Canberra is part of the Thunder territory, but we’re still keen to get our own team here and it bodes well for our bid that a team not even based here, people still come out and support it.

“The appetite is for the Big Bash first and the team second. People are wedded to the product and we think people will continue to support it.

“If you build it, they will come. If it’s good content with international players and a good team, people will come out in their droves to support the game.”

The only way to get a ticket to the game in Canberra is to sign up as a Thunder member after all public allocations were exhausted on Tuesday.

A limited number of tickets are expected to be released at a later date when sight screens and camera positions are finalised.

Cricket Australia is yet to detail expansion plans for the lucrative Twenty20 competition, but McConnell and co have set up an advisory group to be ready to pounce.

In the meantime, the Thunder are forging a relationship with Canberra and loom as the city’s best chance to have a Big Bash presence until expansion plans are put in place.

Manuka Oval will host a Test for the first time next year when Australia plays against Sri Lanka.

The Canberra bid has adjusted its membership program to garner support in the Canberra community, shifting to a pledge of support rather than asking for a financial commitment.

“Canberra gets criticised sometimes for disappearing over the Christmas holidays and not being able to support big fixture games, but this one is right in the middle and already sold out,” McConnell said.

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