St Mary's set to hold at least two more major gigs

5:30am Thursday 12th October 2006

TWO further supersized gigs are set to take place at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium by May 2008.

The football stadium bosses' aims to obtain a licence to hold music concerts have come a step closer.

City planners have extended their permission for the stadium to host 35,000-crowd capacity gigs, which allowed four concerts within two years. This runs out in May next year, but only two concerts - Bon Jovi and Elton John - have taken place so far.

The licence has been extended by a year to allow the other two concerts to go ahead.

No big names have yet been mooted, but bosses at the stadium are pressing ahead with concert plans.

John O'Sullivan, head of business development at St Mary's, told the Daily Echo: "We are in negotiations with several promoters but have nothing booked yet.

"We could not plan anything until today but hope the next concert will be next summer."

The Elton John concert in May and the Bon Jovi concert, in June, attracted only eight complaints from residents concerning noise levels.

Southampton City Council's environmental health team carried out tests both during soundchecks and while the concerts were on and found the noise levels were within the limit.

The Daily Echo revealed earlier this month how Saints had reported a £3.3m loss before tax in the year up to May 31, 2006. It showed the disastrous financial effect of relegation from the Barclays Premiership 12 months previously.

Councillor Alec Samuels, sitting on the council's planning and rights of way panel, said: "I suspect the football club is having difficulty making money out of football, so I would not want to obstruct them in making money from concerts."

When planning permission for St Mary's Stadium was granted in 1999, a condition was imposed stating the venue must not be used for anything other than football without prior consent from the city council.

However, when the stadium applied for permission to hold concerts, the council granted it a two-year licence, starting in May 2005, to hold no more than four concerts to enable the viability of the big gigs to be tried out.

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