Hampshire have sealed a deal to finish their Ageas Bowl ground.
But the club will have to wait a little longer to return to County Championship division one after Essex crushed their promotion hopes yesterday.
Chairman Rod Bransgrove has struck an agreement with Eastleigh Borough Council to begin the construction of a four-star Hilton hotel on the site.
The development will also include additional conferencing and hospitality facilities and a state-of-the-art media centre.
Hampshire are expected to confirm the start date in the coming days but they will aim to have all work completed in time for England’s next Test Match at the Ageas Bowl against India in 2014.
Bransgrove said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to have completed this this deal with Eastleigh Borough Council.
‘Building this hotel and transforming the Ageas Bowl into a model Test match ground will have an overwhelmingly positive effect on the local economy.
‘The deal will create a lasting legacy for the south coast area as a whole, not only by preserving county cricket in Hampshire nor, indeed, solely through encouraging regular top-level international cricket in the region.
This fantastic venue and its excellent facilities and staff will help ensure aspiring young cricketers in the area have every opportunity possible to fulfil their sporting potential.’
The news was not so positive on the Ageas Bowl pitch yesterday, though.
As expected, the home side slumped to defeat at the hands of Essex, which put paid to their promotion hopes as Derbyshire and Yorkshire are now set to scrap for the title.
Skipper Jimmy Adams and Liam Dawson (90) started well, taking their partnership to 160.
But when the latter went, Adams was left fighting a lonely battle.
While he notched a century – finishing on 139 not out – his side were bowled out for 302 and lost by 122 runs.