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Gary Hutchinson SAFC group catering and events manager
Gary Hutchinson SAFC group catering and events manager
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Take That’s visit to Wearside is set to hit the right note with city businesses. Business Editor Kevin Clark reveals why.

TOGETHER with the Kings of Leon gig next month, the Take That shows are expected to pump a whopping £18million into the region’s economy, with more than 250,000 people descending on Wearside from all over the country.

SAFC head of venue and events Gary Hutchinson, pictured, is also chairman of the North East Chamber of Commerce’s Sunderland Committee and club and chamber have been working closely together to ensure the concerts bring the maximum possible economic benefit to the region in general, and Sunderland in particular.

Concert-goers are being directed towards a dedicated section of the club’s concert website, which is hosting free adverts for businesses from Sunderland and further afield, allowing them to promote the offers and events they have lined-up to tie in with the shows.

The club has even teamed-up with the University of Sunderland’s business school, with students visiting sites to help them come up with ideas to make the most of the opportunity and then promote them to maximum effect.

“We have produced a business information document that has gone out to all city businesses to help them prepare and be aware of what is coming,” said Gary.

“The concert site is the hub for all the information – all ticket purchasers have been directed to it with an email from the ticket agents.

“The emphasis is on doing everything possible to maximise the positive impact for the city now, but also in the future in terms of the profile of the event.”

With many concert-goers coming not just from outside the city but the region, the potential for promoting both Sunderland and the North East is huge.

“We have 200,000 people from the North East and about 75,000 from outside the region,” said Gary.

“Every night there will be about 15,000 people coming from Sunderland, so that is about 40,000 people coming to the city who might never have been here before – so there is a great opportunity.

“The aim has to be to give them something to do, something to make them come into the city and a reason to come to your venue.”

This summer will be the third year the stadium has hosted concerts, after Take That and Oasis played two years ago and Pink last summer.

The club has produced a promotional DVD to highlight the Stadium of Light’s suitability as a concert venue and several promoters who have not previously used the stadium will be at this week’s concerts.

Gary believes staging concerts for a third-year running shows the Stadium of Light has become an established fixture on the concert circuit.

“This year has really cemented us as a concert venue for the future,” he said. “By June 17 this year, we will have had just over half-a-million people through the stadium for concerts and seen £35million generated for the city over the three years.

“We are pushing the venue and the city to promoters for next year.”