After a thrilling weekend in Newcastle for the ninth annual Magic Weekend, League Express reporter Aaron Bower has been left in no doubt about the next move for the event..
If you had the privilege of being in Newcastle for Magic Weekend over the last few days, then you will likely have been bowled over by the event being at St James’ Park.
Those were lucky (or wise) enough to spend both days at the event will have seen first hand that it was perhaps the best edition of the event since it was launched in Cardiff back in 2007.
A record attendance for a single day and the biggest ever Magic Weekend crowd across the whole weekend are the two standout stats, but scratch beneath the surface a bit deeper, and it’s hard not to be supremely impressed by Magic in Newcastle.
A fifth of those ticket sales came from the local community, and when you factor in the fact that Newcastle Thunder had over 2500 people there for a game against York on the Friday, it’s clear that Rugby League as a sport is onto something with Magic Weekend and Newcastle.
Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium is back up for the RFL to use next year after renovation work in 2015 meant the enforced move to Newcastle had to happen – but we as a sport now can’t look anywhere else other than Newcastle in 2016.
Magic Weekend as a concept has to be somewhere where fans mustn’t be able to commute there and back from in a single day. for it to work. Manchester has a fantastic venue on offer, but Newcastle seems to be a perfect fit for all the right reasons.
It’s not the distance away from the heartlands that Cardiff or Edinburgh is; meaning you can set off in the morning and be there in time for game one. But the accommodation facilities, the nightlife and the facilities all on offer around the venue means staying in Newcastle should be highly encouraged.
Attendance figures alone dictate that when venues put themselves forward to host Magic Weekend in 2016, they should be politely declined – but there is much more to this city than just St James’ Park.
We’ve seen in the history of Magic that every venue has had at least more than one year in succession to host the event. Newcastle needs to be afforded the same luxury, because there’s genuine potential for the crowds to go up even more next year.
If you can negotiate it on a Bank Holiday as well next year, you might solve the Sunday problem, too.