Dun-Ed-in‘s gone, but positive effects still felt

Dunedin is basking in the afterglow of its biggest weekend ever after hosting three gigs by pop superstar Ed Sheeran.

This is Sheeran‘s sixth trip to New Zealand. Photo: RNZ/Dan Cook

It was predicted to show off the city on its biggest stage since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but some say it has surpassed even that.

Sheeran‘s presence was especially noticeable in the central city, where the Octagon was transformed into a pedestrian-only area for fans with some now hoping it will become a permanent thing.

Forsyth Barr Stadium – long derided by critics as the elephant on the waterfront – played host to close to 110,000 people over Easter weekend, and businesses, locals and visitors alike have praised the efforts of the city to transform into the adopted home of the British hitmaker for four days.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said while millions of dollars flowed through the city during the weekend, the real benefits were likely to be more intangible and long-term.

“I think it‘s benefited [the city] enormously,” he said.

“As much as anything for our reputation as being a city that loves to make a festival of those sort of things. And the exposure around the world of Dunedin as a great fun place.

“I suspect there will be a lot of people around the world now thinking about dropping by.”

The central city was given a makeover for Sheeran‘s arrival, pubs stayed open late on the sacrosanct days and the tills of retailers clanged all weekend as people spent up large.

Making the lower Octagon pedestrian-only for the weekend had also provided a glimpse into a potential future for the central city, Mr Cull said.

“I suspect there could be a push from some parts to take another look at it and make it a permanent fixture,” he said.

“There‘s a lot of us that have been saying for years that it‘s a no-brainer…

“It just takes a wee while to sink in in a conservative community.”

The giant Ed Sheeran mural in Dunedin Photo: Supplied

Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said the weekend was also a success for businesses throughout the city and wider area, and had exceeded expectations.

“The economic impact certainly will be reasonably significant for the city,” he said.

“It certainly would be bigger than we have ever seen before. We were saying it was probably equivalent to the Rugby World Cup for us, but I think it even far exceeds that.

“It certainly does in terms of the atmosphere created.”

Work was underway to assess the economic value of Sheeran‘s visit, but his world-wide pull was already being felt due to his social media presence.

The Ed Sheeran street mural in Bath Street had also paid dividends, Mr Christie said.

“We know that has gone global and having Ed himself go and take a selfie with it is more than we could have ever hoped for.”

The artist‘s own Instagram account had provided more exposure for the city with one photo of him getting up close and personal with Dunedin‘s wildlife already garnering 1.2m likes.