England's Ashes-winning cricketers could give a £20m boost to the North East economy.
As Alastair Cook’s victorious side prepare for Friday’s fourth test at the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground, business leaders say they expect the test match to be a financial boost for the region.
North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) director of policy, Ross Smith, said: “The Ashes Test match is securing five days of international television coverage for what is by far the most scenic cricket ground in England.
“And visitors from all over the country and the other side of the world are going to come to the North East and experience what a fantastic place this is. Anecdotal evidence based on past sporting events hosted in the North East and the general boost to the economy seen when the region has hosted major concerts, suggest that the region could see a benefit in the region of ï¿½20m from the Ashes test match.
“This boost is spread across the region’s leisure sector, but we’ll also see usage of public transport increase and a rise in people attending regional visitor attractions.”
England are already sure of retaining the Ashes after winning the first two Tests at Trent Bridge and Lord’s, then scraping a draw in the rain-hit third Test at Old Trafford.
However, the Great British weather may yet put a dampener on things as the two teams prepare to do battle at Chester-le-Street..
A spokesman for the Met Office said Friday was expected to be cloudy with some rain, while Saturday could see light showers amid the sunny intervals, though winds will remain fairly light.
However the unsettled theme will continue into next week with Sunday and Monday set to be rather showery and breezy.
Fans and residents are also being warned to plan ahead as the roads around the ground – despite it not being a sell out – are expected to be very busy.
Durham Police say they are putting a number of traffic restrictions in place, mainly on the A167, which will be the main route for incoming match traffic.
Signs will direct drivers on which lanes to take from the Blind Lane interchange where the A167 meets the A1(M), while motorists are being reminded to leave extra time if they are heading south from Tyneside, due to the ongoing major roadworks on the A1, near the Angel of the North.
Closer to the stadium at the Riverside a dedicated drop-off point for cars, mini-buses and taxis will be situated in the existing hard-standing car park on the north east side of the A167.
A drop-off point for coaches will operate in a coned area of the nearside lane of the dual carriageway leading from the ground to the B1284.
And a park and ride service is being put in as an alternative to spectators having to use their own cars.
This will run to and from the former garden centre at Lambton Estates, and can hold up to 1,000 cars.
Also, to minimise the disruption to local residents caused by on-street parking during the five-day match a number of locations – including stretches of Castle Close, Plantagenet Avenue, Lancaster Terrace, Queen Park, Holmlands Park, Crichton Avenue and the B1284 Lumley Road bridge – will have “no waiting” restrictions.
Superintendent Helen McMillan, the commander of the five-day policing operation said: “The first three days are sell-outs and we understand tickets are going fast for the other days.
“This is the biggest sporting event County Durham has ever hosted, it should be a great occasion and a wonderful advertisement for the north east.
“Each day we will have around two dozen officers on duty both inside and outside the ground.
“We are not expecting any major issues but obviously we will have sufficient resources in place to deal with anything which arises.”