NEWS of Bon Jovi’s Stadium of Light date was sweet music to the ears of city landlord Matt Alldis.
The Echo revealed on Tuesday that the New Jersey rockers are set to hit town on Thursday, June 13, next year as part of their Because We Can tour.
The show will mark the fifth year in a row the stadium has hosted summer concerts, and Matt, who runs Fitzgerald’s in Green Terrace, is predicting a bumper day for city centre businesses after the success of previous visits by the likes of Take That, Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen.
“I am delighted,” he said. “The concerts are very, very busy days for us. We get a lot of people coming in and eating – it is one of the busiest days of the year.”
Each concert is estimated as worth about £3.5million to the economy of Wearside and the wider North East – about half as much again as a typical Premier League match at the stadium.
Up to 70 per cent of a typical concert crowd will have come from outside Sunderland and fans are much more likely to stay overnight than those attending matches. Music events also attract a different kind of crowd.
“I think last year the gates opened around 5pm, but we started picking up around 1pm, and it was very much a food-based, family atmosphere,” said Matt.
“Everybody who’s going to a concert takes a day off work, so we are likely to be busy all day.
“And it’s not just Sunderland folk going. It is people from all over the country who are getting tickets for these concerts. They are coming here and having a thoroughly good day out in Sunderland, which is positive, positive, positive – I love it.
“It is excellent for the whole city. I think all the businesses in the city centre make a real effort and Sunderland always looks its best for the concerts.”
SAFC commercial director Gary Hutchinson said the club would again be doing its best to ensure Wearside reaped as much economic benefit from the show as possible, including offering businesses the chance to advertise free of charge on the club’s concert website www.safcconcerts.com.
“We want to help people to maximise the benefit they get from the concert,” said Gary.
“As previously, we will be asking people to provide 50 words on their business and an offer for concert-goers. That will be open to bars, restaurants, retailers, travel and accommodation businesses and attractions.”
Gary is chairman of the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC)’s Sunderland committee and the chamber will again by playing an important role in helping businesses make the most of the opportunity.
“We will again be holding an NECC special business briefing at which people will be able to learn how they can take advantage of Bon Jovi’s visit,” said Gary. “That will be in December or January and we hope as many people as possible will attend.”
This week’s announcement was the result of almost 12 months of talks with promoter AEG, the first time SAFC has worked with a company which counts the 02 in London among its venues.
“We have been in discussions since late last year,” said Gary, “and we are really pleased to have secured this for the city. It is good for Sunderland and for the whole region.”
l Tickets for the show go on general sale on Friday, though Black Cats’ season-ticket holders can apply from today. A limited number of £65 general admission tickets will be available from the Stadium of Light ticket office on Friday and the club has a variety of hospitality packages available. For details call 0871 911 1555 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org