Event-ful future for city

by Kate Smith

Thousands of music fans to descend on Wearside.

Up to 150,000 music lovers will be heading to Wearside next month and concerts at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light are now firmly established in the city’s events calendar.

Since the first show back in 2009, when Take That graced the stage over half a million people have flocked to the home of Sunderland AFC - bringing a massive boost to the city economy in the process.

With three more huge shows taking place in June – Bon Jovi, Rihanna and multi-artist North East Live, almost £50 million will have been pumped into the region through the shows in the last five years.

Sunderland’s joined up approach to staging the major events has significantly helped in building solid relationships with all of the major music promoters and securing some of the biggest names in music – highlighted by the recent announcement that One Direction, currently the world’s high profile boyband, will kick off the UK leg of their global tour at the Stadium of Light.

Working in close partnership with organisations such as Sunderland City Council and Northumbria Police, Sunderland AFC is able to offer promoters a ‘one-stop shop’ solution to hosting major events. Solid, effective relationships with key agencies across the region, in terms of transport, infrastructure and safety, offer a seamless approach, making Sunderland one of the go-to venues for major music gigs.

And, with the recent launch of the city’s new events company, it is hoped that Sunderland’s reputation as a major events venue will continue to grow and develop.

Sunderland Live was launched last month and the company is bringing a new and ambitious approach to the delivery of events in the city. An example of this approach is the way in which Sunderland Live is working closely with Sunderland AFC in relation to the Stadium Concerts programme, both this year and next.

As Chief Operating Officer, Chris Alexander, explains: “Effectively we are looking to deliver in three key areas. Firstly, we want to ensure consistently high levels of public satisfaction with the events programme and this applies to residents, businesses and visitors to the city. Secondly, we are aiming to increase the number of events that are staged here and thirdly we are looking to achieve this whilst reducing ongoing costs and making the overall programme economically viable”.

They have certainly hit the ground running by introducing two new city centre festivals in May and they have just launched a programme of events throughout June under the heading “Summer in the City” working with local businesses.

The focus is very much about long-term sustainability, and developing positive relationships with organisations across Sunderland is key to the company’s approach.

“The city is fortunate to have a number of very ambitious organisations who are promoting Sunderland in a positive light regionally, nationally and internationally” continues Alexander. “It is important for Sunderland Live to create partnerships with some of these, especially where we can add value to the overall product”.

Sunderland AFC’s Commercial director, Gary Hutchinson, added: “It’s fantastic to see the city driving forward its events programme in such a dynamic way and the formation of Sunderland Live shows the ambition and determination to bring large scale events to the city.  We are hugely proud of how the concert programme has grown and developed since 2009, with Sunderland now firmly on the map in terms of global music events.

“We have built strong and effective relationships with all of the major music promoters – and this is in no small part down to the joined up approach that Sunderland offers to the staging of major events. Every time we talk to a promoter they are hugely impressed by the ‘can do’ attitude of all of the agencies across the city – and this is what makes us stand out as a venue in a very competitive market.” 

Information on this summers’ concerts at the Stadium of Light can be found at and for full details about  Sunderland Live’s events  visit: