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Dunedin has proven it can deliver "world-class" events after pop superstar Ed Sheeran signed off in style at Forsyth Barr Stadium last night.
The English singer-songwriter performed his third and final concert under the roof to another massive crowd of close to 35,000 fans, following sellout shows for crowds of close to 40,000 on Thursday and Saturday nights.
The curtain finally came down as the city continued to hum with activity, fuelled by an influx of close to 70,000 visitors who helped pump an estimated $34 million into the city’s economy.
Dunedin Venues chief executive Terry Davies told the Otago Daily Times the concerts’ success was "momentous" for the city and the stadium.
Promoters had been forced to sit up and take notice when fans snapped up 35,000 tickets to a Fleetwood Mac concert scheduled for a Wednesday in Dunedin in 2015, he said.
But Ed Sheeran’s run of Dunedin concerts had taken that success to "another level", and would open new doors to other major events in future, he said.
"It’s proven that we can host world-class events. It doesn’t matter what scale. This was a different level again.
"We’ll always be on the table now for big future events."
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said the concerts had been "pretty amazing" for the city, its businesses and residents.
"You could see by the sheer numbers of people in town, and the flow of traffic, there’s been a really good vibe.
"And it’s not just the tills that are ticking over. It’s how people are feeling about Dunedin ... I think it feels pretty good to be part of a city which is doing so well."
Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said the concerts had been a "logistical challenge", but one the city had handled "really well".
"I think that’s a tribute to how much hard work and preparation’s gone on by a number of organisations across the city for many, many months.
"It just shows you the preparation that’s gone in that’s made it a real festival, I think, for everybody.
"The focus of the festival is obviously Ed Sheeran, but I think the city’s really enjoyed the atmosphere that’s gone on around that as well."
The decision to spend $8350 on a mural of the singer in Bath St — as one part of a $170,000 bill for Ed Sheeran-related events — had been criticised by some, but Mr Christie was "stunned" by how many people had sought out the large public mural to take photos.
That included Sheeran himself, who took a selfie with the mural and shared the image with his 21.2 million followers on social media platform Instagram.
Mr Christie said that shared selfie gave Dunedin "global" exposure, and it was hoped the rest of the city’s visitors would return to their homes with positive experiences of Dunedin to share too.
"For some people, they see that it is something the city council shouldn’t be spending funding on.
"I believe the magnitude of what that brings in to the city, economically, culturally and socially, is certainly a very good investment and one we’d readily do again, I’m sure."
Mayor Dave Cull said it was one of the biggest weekends in Dunedin’s history and the city rose to the occasion.
The overwhelmingly positive reception for events surrounding Sheeran’s concerts also "vindicates the decision to pick up on the opportunity", he said.
"Once we knew we were getting three concerts, and the realisation that 70,000 people who would normally not be here were going to be in Dunedin for at least part of the weekend, then I think that set people off.
"What we could have done is say, ‘Isn’t that great — let’s just take their money’ and hope they have a good time.
"I think we rose to the occasion as a city and said, ‘Let’s make it a full weekend of festivities ... not only to host Ed Sheeran but to host those 70,000 people, and establish Dunedin as a really hospitable, fun place when something’s going on."