European Professional Club Rugby’s memorable 2019 Finals weekend delivered an impressive £24.6 million (€27.2 million) economic boost to the host city, Newcastle.
A capacity St James’ Park crowd of 51,930 witnessed Saracens’ victory over Leinster Rugby in the Heineken Champions Cup final last May, and in addition, the attendance record for a Challenge Cup final in the United Kingdom was smashed for the meeting of ASM Clermont Auvergne and La Rochelle.
With hotel occupancy in the city at 99% and with a quarter of the visitors arriving from outside of the UK, the two Newcastle finals delivered a significant legacy to the community that stretches far beyond the sporting field.
The results continue the positive financial trends witnessed in Lyon, Edinburgh and Bilbao since the ‘destination’ finals concept was launched by EPCR in 2016. More than 35,000 tickets have already been snapped up for the 2020 showpiece weekend in Marseille on 22/23 May next, before the finals return to England in 2021 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
François Vergnol, EPCR Marketing and Commercial Director, said: “The economic success of the Finals weekend for Newcastle and the North-East of England highlights the long-term value of hosting club rugby’s greatest weekend in such a dynamic destination. The local organising team had a clear objective to create a strong and lasting legacy from the event and it is clear that the traditional Geordie welcome will inspire return visitors in the future. I always find it remarkable how sport has the ability to positively influence the perception of a city in the eyes of visiting fans.”
Mick Hogan, Event Director for Newcastle 2019, said: “The economic impact report and the supporter survey puts into a formal context what we already knew – that bringing the European finals to Newcastle has been a huge success.
“Anyone who was in Newcastle to experience the event will be able to tell you it was a carnival of colours, an immense sporting theatre framed by our famous North-East hospitality, and the data from the report certainly bears out those impressions. In addition, it has further helped promote the sport of rugby within the North-East, and that legacy aspect really is important in helping to inspire the next generation.”
The process for finalising a host city for the 2022 Finals weekend is currently underway, and the landmark 25th season of the Heineken Champions Cup will kick off on Friday 15 November when Gloucester Rugby take on four-time champions, Toulouse, at Kingsholm.
EPCR delivered last May’s finals in tandem with the local Newcastle 2019 organising team which worked in partnership with Newcastle Falcons, Newcastle United FC, NewcastleGateshead Initiative and Newcastle City Council.