SUNDERLAND’S fierce rivalry with Newcastle could still be played out on the pitch – even when the season’s over.
NUFC bosses have announced plans to transform St James’s Park into a concert venue next summer following the success of gigs at the Stadium of Light.
And if approved they hope to put on a two-day concert in May – the same month superstars One Direction plan to play Sunderland.
The home of the Black Cats has established itself as the top stadium venue in the North East over the past five years, with some of the biggest names in the music industry playing the city including Oasis, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay and Rihanna.
Although having another large-scale music venue in such close proximity could potentially affect which acts are secured in the future, the club is confident it has built a strong reputation with music promoters.
Gary Hutchinson, SAFC commercial director, said: “The Stadium of Light has hosted 15 headline major music concerts since 2009, establishing itself firmly on the national music map. We have built a great reputation in the industry and are continuing to grow this.
“2014 is set to be a great year for music at the Stadium of Light and the city of Sunderland, with One Direction already confirmed and announcements on further acts coming soon.”
As well as next year’s concert, Newcastle United chiefs also hope to stage a two-day gig in May 2015. They have submitted a planning application to Newcastle City Council which, if passed, could see music played until 11.30pm on all four days.
The last musician to play at St James’s Park was Rod Stewart in June 2007.
Each concert at the Stadium of Light ploughs roughly £3.5m into the local economy.
Harry Collinson, chairman of the City Centre Traders’ Association, said: “It’s a very competitive market but we’ve been doing it for five years now and the club has built up a great relationship with promoters.
“They know what quality Sunderland has to offer.
“One of the problems is keeping people in the city after the concerts but we’re working on a number of projects to attract people next year.