Last week I had the opportunity for a look around the new facilities at the 3aaa County Ground.
Whether a player or supporter, the change is astonishing. The players benefit from vastly improved facilities (and rightly so) that gives them the space to spread out in the dressing room, each with their own 'pod' with storage and power. Generously sized, after considerable input from the players, the pods give space for personal belongings and equipment and are most impressive. So is everything about the new player facilities, especially the viewing options afforded. They can watch from within the dressing room, on a balcony outside it or from a private part of the seating in front of the Gateway.
Credit is due to all involved for the vision to transform tired old facilities and give the players something to enjoy and to be proud of. Which is what supporters can do with the new-look pavilion.
In front of it, with the old administration buildings gone, along with the indoor school, is a huge expanse of parking space. The development potential for the medium to long term is considerable, but I never realised just how much land was there. With the vegetation behind the old indoor school cleared, the place looks three times the size.
From a very first sight of the front of the building, it screams 'This is Derbyshire'. The new vestibule is bright and airy, the club crest on the mat a nice touch and the lift welcome. As for the first floor - it is simply magnificent.
The club now has the option of catering for small meetings, or one large one. Partitions can easily increase or reduce capacity and the overall appearance is classy and impressive. The bar is well-sited, the 'mood' lighting a nice touch and the sound system a world apart from what we had in the past.
Outside, the balconies have been extended and offer considerable seating space, with the old cheap plastic chairs a thing of the past (thankfully!) Looking out over the playing surface, I could quite easily see myself with a favourite new vantage point, though the stand might well retain my loyalties, affording a wonderful angle and aspect for cricket-watching.
It is breathtaking and brilliant. Yes, I am biased, but I loved it. Seeing the players come out from somewhere new will be strange, but they now have their own area, something to which they have every entitlement. With training and changing facilities in the same building, we now have a 21st century facility to match the club's ambition. Equally important, for a club with aspirations to stage bigger matches, the players now have somewhere that can be securely 'locked down' for their use only.
This is phase one and everyone involved deserves credit for the vision, the standard of workmanship and the way in which the job was completed to schedule. It is something to look forward to seeing on your visits this summer.
It augurs well for the next stages. Other teams will not dislike coming to Derby now.
Apart from when we beat them...