Column: Moving Magic Weekend not the wrong call - but the city of Leeds is

Magic Weekend 2024 appears to be destined for disaster following the reaction of supporters to the change of venue to Elland Road.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The home of Leeds United will become Magic Weekend’s sixth venue host next year with logistical issues forcing the annual festival of rugby league away from St James’ Park.

Read More
All the key dates for Wigan Warriors’ 2024 campaign including Super League, Magi...

Newcastle has been the home of the event for seven of the last eight, with Anfield in 2019 and the pandemic forcing a cancellation in 2020.

A general view of St James' Park during the 2023 Super League Magic WeekendA general view of St James' Park during the 2023 Super League Magic Weekend
A general view of St James' Park during the 2023 Super League Magic Weekend
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The incredible 52,000-capacity stadium became a fan favourite, arguably the most-loved in the history of Magic, and was about everything the weekend should be.

The location, the size and the facilities themselves were all a big hit and taking the sport to the north east once a year was an exciting occasion.

However, as with Newcastle Thunder’s current issues, it may not have had the impact on the sport it should have had in the area.

Although since performing a U-turn on their decision not to participate in next year’s League 1 campaign following their relegation from Championship, Newcastle’s initial statement read that growing rugby league in the area “did not work out” with “low levels of regional growth and development in the game.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Kingston Park also played hosts to three World Cup group stage fixtures last year, with a combined crowd of just 16,617 for games including Scotland, Fiji and Italy.

So one could argue that it was the right time to move on the highly-loved event, in which clubs fought against IMG to keep, and attract another new audience.

Plenty of suggestions were tossed up on social media, including Nottingham and Sheffield.

The Coventry Building Society Arena also hosted a World Cup fixture between Australia and Scotland and could have been another potential destination.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But the one the RFL and IMG have landed on is uninspiring and has been met with backlash.

It’s not a new area or a new experience for fans, with the whole point of the Magic Weekend concept to take the game to new cities, hence the love for Newcastle.

Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester are all previous hosts and even a return to the Etihad Stadium would have been met more positively, having held the showcase event from 2012-2014.

With the weekend pushed back due to an earlier staging of the Challenge Cup final, you’d imagine the task at hand was near-impossible to get a top-flight Premier League club to agree to host six crushing games of rugby league on their field in the season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The one positive for the Warriors is that they will meet rivals St Helens for only the second time during the event since 2012 - although it will be the second of three meetings in 2024.

It’s a fixture that should attract a big crowd on the opening day from either side, alongside big followings from Hull, Leeds and Warrington on the Saturday which could all be the saviour for next year’s festival.

But we could be witnessing the beginning of the end of the beloved Magic Weekend.