Sunderland gets ready for fans to splash their cash

Coldplay at Sunderland Stadium of Light 7th June 2012
Coldplay at Sunderland Stadium of Light 7th June 2012
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WEARSIDE needs to be ready for an influx of music fans with money to spend.

That was the message to businesses from SAFC commercial director Gary Hutchinson, as the Stadium of Light gears up to welcome New jersey rockers Bon Jovi and R&B superstar Rihanna in the summer.

Landing this year’s concerts had been a real challenge, said Gary.

“In tough times, promoters are nervous, bands are nervous.

“I found it tougher than ever this year. We had to work hard to stand still.”

The gamble had proved a winner, however, with ticket sales for Rihanna passing the 50,000 mark faster than for the star’s London show.

This is the fifth year running the Stadium of Light had staged concerts in the close season, with Rihanna set to break the previous attendance record of 56,000, set by Coldplay last year.

Up to 57,500 people are expected to pack into the stadium for the Wearside leg of the global Diamonds tour – and they will all have money to spend.

Club bosses and regional tourism groups have conducted research which shows each gig is worth about £3.5million to the city and the wider North East economy.

The average concert-goer is claimed to spend more than £50, with that figure rocketing to £122 for each person staying over, a significant amount with more than one-in-10 ticket holders coming from outside the region.

The club is committed to ensuring Sunderland gets the maximum possible benefit from the gigs, with business able to advertise free on the dedicated website

But it worked both ways, said Gary, with support from the city business community in the form of special offers and deals for concert-goers helping the club to sell the stadium as a venue.

“It is in our own interest to have as many people with us as possible,” he said.

“It makes our proposition to the promoter more complete, that the North East is open for business and we are working together.

“Your offering is part of our offering – the partnership approach is very important.”

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