Business leaders say the potential influx of fans for the Rugby World Cup could pump millions of pounds into the North East economy.
Scots, South Africans, Samoans, Tongans and New Zealanders will be Newcastle bound in October 2015, with three of the competition’s pool matches at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.
Ticket prices were yesterday revealed, with some supporters questioning whether organisers have priced them too high.
North East Chamber of Commerce head of member relations, Jonathan Walker, said the region is gaining a growing reputation for staging world-class sporting events.
He said: “The Great North Run gets bigger every year, all three major football stadiums have hosted England matches and having successfully staged a gripping Ashes test, we’re becoming adept at using these events to showcase everything that is great about our region.
“St James’ Park hosting major teams for the Rugby World Cup games is another feather in our cap and will bring thousands of visitors and potentially millions of pounds to the region.
“Newcastle has proved, by hosting Olympic football matches in 2012, that it is equipped to cater for large international events and I expect the city to once again throw open its arms and offer some genuine North East hospitality to those flocking to watch what promises to be a hotly-contested Rugby World Cup.”
Organisers said they were making tickets “as affordable as possible,” with some being sold for as little as £7 for children and £15 for adults – but people attending the North East games face having to pay more than three times that to sit in the worst seats.
St James’ Park is to host three pool games, with South Africa facing Scotland on October 3, New Zealand versus Tonga on October 9, and Samoa against Scotland on October 10.
“It’s a lot of money and I’ll go regardless, but for families it’s difficult when the economic times are tough,” said Margaret Smithurst, membership secretary of the Newcastle Falcons Supporters Club. “Yet I hope people will get behind it because it’s a great opportunity to put this region on the map for rugby.
Each match has four categories of seating, A to D, with the cheapest adult ticket for each game priced at £50.
Category C and D child tickets are available for £15, however to sit in a category B area will set all supporters back £115 to £125, regardless of their age.
The best seats go up again to £150 for the later two matches, and £175 to see the Springboks play the Scots.