Sunderland prepares for One Direction

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THE football season may be over, but staff at the Stadium of Light have no time to take it easy.

No sooner had the Black Cats wound up their season against Swansea on Sunday than work got under way to prepare for this summer’s two massive concerts.

Promoters and hundreds of set-up crew have moved on-site to begin the huge task of preparing the stadium for the first show – One Direction – in just under a fortnight’s time.

The vast infrastructure required to host the show is being installed and crowd barriers, handrails, LED boards and advertising hoardings have already been removed from around the playing field. A special surface is also being laid which covers the entire pitch.

External courtyard areas, designed to house pre-show entertainment, food courts and bars are also under construction.

SAFC facilities manager Peter Weymes, who is overseeing the vast operation, said: “There is a huge amount of work involved in turning the stadium from a football arena to a concert venue and we only have a very short period of time to get everything done.

“The whole on-site team is working extremely hard to get the stadium ready for the band’s arriving and to ensure that it is in fantastic shape for the shows.”

Sunderland welcomes the boyband sensation on May 28, followed by the North East’s biggest-ever pop concert North East Live, on June 22.

Tickets are still available for North East Live, priced from just £25. The multi-artist pop festival features Jessie J, Rizzle Kicks, top UK girl band The Saturdays and teen sensations The Vamps and Union J.

Jason Derulo will arrive from the USA to play his only outdoor UK tour dates for 2014, with Katy B, girl band Neon Jungle and Rixton completing the line-up.