- St James' Park aiming to host European Rugby Champions Cup final
- Newcastle Falcons' Kingston Park also involved in bid
Newcastle is bidding to become the host city for European club rugby union's showpiece weekend in May 2018.
The aim is to stage the 2018 European Rugby Champions Cup final, European Rugby Challenge Cup final and Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition final in the city. Combined, they form one of the biggest weekends in club rugby, generating over €20.4m million in total economic impact.
If Newcastle is successful in their bid, the Champions Cup final would be held at Newcastle United's St James' Park Stadium, with the Challenge Cup final proposed to held at Kingston Park Stadium, home of Aviva Premiership Rugby club Newcastle Falcons.
“Securing the 2018 finals would be another significant boost for the development and growth of rugby in the region," said Mick Hogan, managing director of Newcastle Rugby Limited.
“The city has two great venues in St James’ Park and Kingston Park Stadium, which would ensure a fantastic weekend of club rugby. When it comes to major events Newcastle upon Tyne always delivers to the very highest levels. We saw that in abundance during last year’s Rugby World Cup, and would see it again if Newcastle was chosen as the host city in 2018.
The bid is a partnership between Newcastle City Council, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Newcastle United Football Club and Newcastle Rugby Ltd, and has been submitted with the support of the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby Limited.
St James' Park has a capacity in excess of 52,000 and successfully staged a trio of major international matches during Rugby World Cup 2015, with capacity crowds drawn to the city for games involving New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga and Samoa.
A fan zone would be accommodated within the city leading up to the event and over the weekend itself. The fan zone which was in place for last year’s Rugby World Cup broke all records with a tournament-high 34,000 people visiting it on one day for the South Africa v Scotland game.
The next stage of the bidding process to award the host of the three events sees a shortlist of candidate cities drawn up by tournament organisers, European Professional Club Rugby, by December 16, 2016. That is followed by venue visits and a selection process through to March 2017, before a final decision is made in April 2017.
Tickets for the 2018 finals will go on sale a week before the 2017 European Rugby Champions Cup final, which is being held in Edinburgh on 13 May.