THE outstanding success of the region's leading cricket club looks set to be a multi-million pound money-spinner for the North-East economy.
Analysis carried out for Durham County Cricket Club estimates that by 2016, around 213,000 people will visit its Chester-le-Street stadium each year.
And the thousands of fans who flock north for international games, such as the One-Day International between England and Sri Lanka later this month and last year’s historic Ashes Test match, are putting millions of pounds into the tills of local businesses.
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The reigning county champions commissioned leading industry analysts, Global Tourism Solutions (UK), to study the economic impact of visitors attending the Riverside ground.
Their report suggests that by 2016, total expenditure by visitors to the stadium will have risen to £16.34m a year, including more than £5m spent in County Durham’s pubs and restaurants, as well as £500,000 each in local shops and on hotel accommodation.
That level of spending will be enough to support the equivalent of 240 full-time jobs in the wider economy.
The report suggests that by 2016 around 84,000 local people will attend the stadium each year to watch cricket, alongside 45,000 tourists visiting the ground as spectators and another 84,000 attending the stadium for other reasons, including conferences or music concerts, such as next month’s gig by chart-toppers Boyzone.
Spectator numbers at the Emirates International Cricket Ground have risen on the back of Durham’s domestic success, with three county titles in five years.
But the big money-spinners are the international games, peaking last year when 153,000 cricket fans watched games at the stadium, including the unforgettable Test match against Australia, which is estimated to have generated £20m for the local economy.
David Harker, chief executive of Durham County Cricket Club, said: “We are an institution that was born in County Durham and that belongs to the North-East – it’s so important that, first and foremost, people here feel a sense of pride and ownership in our club.
“A real measure of our success is the impact that we have locally – on communities, on the economy, on pride – making people glad to be part of the North-East.
“The Ashes last year, and our hosting of International Cricket matches really does help us to put the county and indeed North -East on the map, attracting the world’s media and, of course, attracting tourists to the area.”
He added: “It is the hosting of these high-profile matches that helped us bring almost £20m into the region’s economy during 2013. And the profile it gives our fantastic region is something that cannot be underestimated.
“All of this, teamed with the extensive community projects we deliver to directly benefit people – young and old - from in and around County Durham, means that we really do make a significant contribution to the area beyond just economic wealth”.