It was revealed yesterday that the process of finding of selecting the next venue for the Magic Weekend was underway.
The RFL revealed that a number of venues across the United Kingdom had already shown an interest in hosting the event after a record 68,276 people attended the 2016 event at St James’ Park in Newcastle across both days in 2016.
St James’ Park in Newcastle and the Ricoh Arena in Coventry have already indicated an interest, according to the report. But where else could we expect to see the weekend bonanza show up next year. Here are a few candidates.
The obvious candidates
St James’ Park (Newcastle)
You know what they say; If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
There’s nothing wrong with showing ambition and adventure, but the last two years have been successful in one of the country’s most popular party cities.
Attendances have been good, the fans have been in good spirits and the clubs seem very happy with it too.
It can be argued you can have too much of a good thing, and a move away from the Toon would result in big ticket sales upon any return, but with everyone happy, it might not be time to leave just yet.
The iconic stadium is beginning to gain popularity among the higher-ups at the RFL.
Liverpool FC’s ground will host the Four Nations Final this year, which is a massive show of confidence to a ground that hasn’t hosted a Rugby League game since 1997.
In fact, Anfield as hosted just three Rugby League games in its history. Over 17,000 attended a Charity Shield game between Widnes and Wigan in 1989, and two years later over 20,000 went to the World Club Challenge game between Widnes and Penrith. St Helens then played the first ever league match at the venue when they took on Castleford in April of 1997.
However, with the great game returning to the ground later this year while also being named as a potential location to be used in the 2017 World Cup bid, it might be wise to make Rugby League fans more accustomed with the 44,000-seater stadium.
Beyond that, it is another city renowned for its nightlife, which will be a big thing for a large section of supporters.
The Etihad Stadium (Manchester)
An old friend of the Magic Weekend, Manchester City’s ground proved to be a popular location for fans given its ideal location and facilities in and outside the ground.
Countless memories were made during the three Magic Weekends that took place at the stadium, which following a recent upgrade can now accommodate 60,000 visitors.
All three events proved successful, which makes it a reliable location should nothing else be available.
After making the move to take the event elsewhere, it is perhaps too early for a return, but it wouldn’t be met with too much criticism if the two-year hiatus came to an end.
The Ricoh Arena (Coventry)
Coventry is quickly becoming the new up-and-coming place for Rugby League.
Local side Coventry Bears have made great progress over the last 18 months, with the local area getting behind the League One team.
But what better way than to really boost the game in the area by taking some of the game’s best players down there for a weekend of jam-packed action?
Magic Weekend does pull in locals, which would be fantastic news for Coventry as a city and the Bears too, but how fans from the heartlands would react might prove challenging.
City Ground (Nottingham)
A 30,000-seater stadium situated in a vibrant city with fantastic nightlife, what could go wrong?
Logistically, Nottingham isn’t the worst place to travel, with public transport also good for that area.
There isn’t a professional club in the area, which is a shame, but taking one of the game’s big domestic events there could be the catalyst to change that.