SUNDERLAND will find out within days if the Tall Ships are coming to the Wear.
The Echo revealed in August that a bid was being launched to bring the Tall Ships Race to Sunderland for the first time.
Sail Training International, which organises the race, is looking for a North Sea port to be part of the 2018 race, and Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Culture (Mac) Trust and Sunderland City Council have joined forces to convince it to choose the mouth of the Wear.
A successful bid would bring about a million visitors into the city over four days in 2018 and be worth up to £50million for the Wearside economy.
A meeting of the North East Chamber of Commerce Sunderland committee at the Stadium of Light heard a decision was imminent and chairman Gary Hutchinson said organisers were feeling ‘quietly confident’.
“We put a bid together on a very short time scale – they didn’t expect us to get the bid in,” he said.
“They have told us it’s the best bid they have seen for years and we should have the decision by October 31.
“We are quite confident we have put a compelling bid in.”
If successful, the Wear would be dredged as far as the Stadium of Light to allow the ships to enter the river.
Although the race has been held in Newcastle and Hartlepool, it has never come to Sunderland in its almost 60-year history.
As well as an imposing visual spectacle, the event – which would feature up to 100 vessels from around 20 countries – would be a massive boost for tourism on the Wear and form the centrepiece of a host of cultural activities across the city.
Sunderland’s bid was formally submitted last month when the Mac Trust’s John Mowbray said: “It’s a very good bid and I’m feeling confident about it.
“The legacy that hosting the Tall Ships would create would be huge.
“It would open up the river again and help link the seafront and city centre.”