Wearside businesses urged to make the most of summer gigs

JOINING IN: Ben Wall (right) and Paul Smiles, of Sunderland's Independent nightclub, look forward to the gigs boosting business.
JOINING IN: Ben Wall (right) and Paul Smiles, of Sunderland's Independent nightclub, look forward to the gigs boosting business.
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WEARSIDE firms have been given a helping hand to cash in on the £18million gig-goers will bring to the city this summer.

With just six weeks to go until Take That arrive to launch their latest concert tour, Sunderland AFC, Sunderland City Council, bars, restaurants and businesses have teamed up to ensure visitors have plenty to keep them busy.

And in a bid to get the whole of Wearside involved, university students have been helping to ensure businesses are kept up to date with what is going on.

Gary Hutchinson, SAFC’s head of venue and events and chairman of Sunderland’s North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “Hosting Take That and Kings of Leon concerts is fantastic for SAFC and for Sunderland.

“The key now is to ensure that businesses in the city are prepared for the visitors who will arrive.

“Students from the university have provided excellent support to both SAFC and the city council’s efforts to keep local businesses informed and engaged in the process.”

The team of 22 students have been working alongside businesses to make sure they make the most of the national spotlight being shone on Sunderland as Take That launch their Progress tour here on Friday, May 27.

Christine Graham, 22, of Houghton, is studying events management and has been helping ahead of the string of gigs.

She said: “Being part of the group is fantastic and so far it has been a really good learning experience.

“It’s a great way to really understand everything that goes on behind the scenes for such major events, and how important it is to make sure that all businesses in the city have a chance to benefit from them.”

City centre nightspot Independent is getting in on the action by putting on a string of special offers to nights they are arranging when Take That and Kings of Leon take the city by storm.

Manager Paul Smiles, who runs the Holmeside club with Ben Wall, said: “The concerts are brilliant for Sunderland and we can’t wait to welcome people from outside of the city as well as our local customers to really get in the mood for them.

“The massive influx of visitors is going to be great for Sunderland businesses and we’re delighted to be working in partnership with SAFC, the council and the university to make sure we’re prepared to give them a great Sunderland welcome.”

As well as the gigs, Sunderland’s thriving music scene will give visitors a host of events to choose from.

The Sunderland Live Fringe Festival, which runs on the weekends between May 27 and June 17, will bring the city alive with live music in pubs, parks and public spaces.

Dave Smith, chief executive at Sunderland City Council, said: “The upcoming Take That and Kings of Leon concerts are a real coup for the city.

“Accommodating a quarter of a million people presents a fantastic opportunity to show what Sunderland is all about.

“We are sure that the combination of partnership working, local business support, live music and of course, the concerts at the Stadium of Light, will make this a summer to remember for Sunderland.”