gary hutchinson

Director relishing musical hat-trick

by Ashley Houghton

Club looking forward to summer shows.

Sunderland AFC’s commercial director, Gary Hutchinson, is filled with excitement ahead of this summer’s first concert at the Stadium of Light.

Bon Jovi will take centre stage tonight ahead of Rihanna next week and North East Live just days later.

And Hutchinson says the widespread benefits of the concerts to the region are the driving force behind the club’s commitment to put on a good show.

“It’s exciting; it’s good for the club, good for the city and good for the region as a whole,” Hutchinson said.

“The team are looking forward to delivering another successful concert.

“30 or 40% of the crowd are coming from Newcastle and they’re obviously people who might not normally come here for anything other than the derby game.

“That’s great for us; we’re bringing new people into the city but were also bringing more to the local economy, which wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t secured the concerts.”

2012 was another ground breaking year for concerts at the SoL with Bruce Springsteen, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Coldplay all starring on Wearside.

And Hutchinson is hoping 2013’s concerts can match, and hopefully better, those of last year, whilst he also urged fans who have not yet got tickets for Rihanna or North East Live to hurry for the remaining few seats.

“We did very, very well last year, but for me the big one is Rihanna; you can’t get a bigger artist than her,” he added. “There will be 57,000 in the Stadium of Light next Thursday and it’ll be absolutely jumping.

“Bon Jovi will be fantastic; we’re also very excited about North East Live which is the new pop-type gig we’ve got coming next Saturday as well, so it’s something for everyone.

“We’ve very few tickets left for Rihanna; tickets are still available for North East Live from the Stadium ticket office.”

It was also announced last month that One Direction would be opening the UK leg of their world tour here in Sunderland.

Hutchinson feels that the addition of the world’s biggest boy band to the 2014 concerts at the SoL is further proof of the progress the club is making as a venue.

“We’ll have our work cut out with One Direction because they’ll be rehearsing with us as well so we’ll have them here in advance,” Hutchinson explained.

“We’re very, very pleased to have them here kicking off their big stadium tour.”