Staff face the boardroom in a The Apprentice Challenge

The team at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park stadium has taken a leaf out of the top TV programme’s book to launch Project A; a drive to create a series of one-off events to be held at the venue.

Apprentice Challenge at Newcastle United

STAFF at one of the UK’s most famous football grounds are to face the boardroom in an Apprentice challenge to boost their creativity.

Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events, which manages conferencing and events at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park stadium, has taken a leaf out of the top TV programme’s book to launch Project A; a drive to create a series of one-off events to be held at the venue.

Following the format of the BBC1 show, headed by Lord Sugar, staff at the stadium have been split into six teams and tasked with not only generating event suggestions but also with exploring and ensuring their viability.

And, over the course of the ongoing project, the teams, made up of staff from a variety of departments led by a duty manager in the role of project leader, have had to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges in the boardroom.

And their teamwork is proving so successful that plans are now underway for the stadium to host an additional 11 public and corporate events – from real ale festivals and tea dances to summer picnics and masquerade balls – in the coming months.

In the run up to the events, teams will be evaluated on their performance and prizes will be awarded in categories such as Best Team Player, Best Revenue and Best Customer feedback.

Project A is the brainchild of operations manager, Lucy Goodwin, who said: “The aim was to help develop our duty managers’ business and managerial skills and to harness the creativity of staff who aren’t usually involved in the process of event planning.

“More than 30 of our staff have taken part and their enthusiasm and drive has been incredibly impressive.

“The challenge has really inspired everyone and, along with being great fun, it’s improved inter-departmental communication and, most importantly, given people from the North East and further afield even more reason than ever to visit St James’ Park.”

Events scheduled as a result of Project A are:

  • Tea in the Toon, Saturday 25 June – a traditional afternoon tea at the stadium.
  • England Euros, Saturday 11, Thursday 16 and Monday 20 June – corporate packages to watch three England Euros fixtures with drinks packages and themed food.
  • Golden Oldies Tea Dance, Wednesday 6 July.
  • Toast of the Tyne, Friday 2September – a charity masquerade ball in association with The Bobby Robson Foundation and Bright Red.
  • Real Ale Festival, Friday 7 and Saturday 8 October – a two-day festival featuring a selection of local breweries with food, entertainment and spirit tents.
  • Family Fun Day, Friday 28 October – Hallowe’en-themed fun day for families.
  • Festive Fayre, Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 November – food, craft and outdoor Christmas fair with food demonstrations and entertainment
  • Evening with Darts Legend, Tuesday 6 December – darts, auction and Q&A with a darts legend.

Other events with dates yet to be confirmed include a picnic-style party lunch for youngsters with their favourite fairy tale princesses and a North East darts tournament.

For more information about upcoming events at St James’s Park call 0191 201 8525 or e-mail

Find out more about conferences, meetings and events at Newcastle United FC.