Magic Weekend interest grows as Super League weighs up options for 2023
The annual two-day event began life in Cardiff in 2007 and has also been held in Edinburgh, Manchester and Liverpool but looks to have found a permanent home in Newcastle, which has hosted six of the last seven editions.
A total of 62,154 fans flocked to St James’ Park over the weekend, up on the 2021 two-day aggregate figure of 60,866.
It fell short of the record of 68,276, which was set in Newcastle in 2016, but was viewed as highly satisfactory in difficult economic times and seen as encouraging by organisers hoping to raise the profile of rugby league ahead of the World Cup opener between England and Samoa at St James’ Park on October 15.
“We’ll do the post-event review, internally with the clubs and also with Newcastle United and Newcastle council because they are part of the tripartite agreement we have here,” Jones told the PA news agency.
“There is a view to come back here next year but we’ll only trigger that once we’ve done the review. There is an aspiration from the Newcastle side to have us back.
“We’ve had a great weekend. The city centre has been busy, hotel and accommodate rates are high and so they are very keen to have us back but we need to do our own analysis and make a decision fairly quickly.”
Newcastle is facing competition but organisers will take notice of feedback from fans, who have generally given St James’ Park the thumbs-up.
“I had an interesting text from one stadium on Saturday saying they were watching and it looked great and they would be interested in having a conversation,” Jones revealed.
“It’s closer to the heartland and a stadium that we’ve been to before but, to be fair to Newcastle, they’re in pole position based on the number of years we’ve been here, the relationship we’ve got with the stadium and the way the fans just love coming to Newcastle.
“We’ve been to Cardiff, Murrayfield, Manchester and Liverpool but I said it a number of years ago, I think Magic has found its home here in Newcastle.
“It’s got everything you want it to have and the stadium location is an integral part of its success.”
Officials will also have a decision to make on the timing of the event. This year’s event was moved back in the calendar due to the Challenge Cup final being brought forward from August to May and looks certain to shift again in 2023.
“It’s broader than just what Magic Weekend looks like next year,” Jones added.
“We obviously need to feed in with the RFL in terms of the Challenge Cup and where the internationals sit next year. We had our first 2023 calendar meeting last Thursday.”