Top sports promoter Barry Hearn was bowled over by betway Premier League Darts’ debut at the First Direct Arena – in front of 11,000 ecstatic, loud and fancy-dress clad fans.
Hearn, chairman of the Professional Darts Corporation, travelled up to Leeds for the event and instantly promised the Premier League will return next year.
“This is the first time I have been to the Arena and I am super-impressed,” Hearn told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“I heard some good things about it, but until you actually see it you don’t know.
“I like the fact the audience is so close to the stage.
“That adds to the atmosphere and the sound, but most importantly this is a commercial business and I have to be led by ticket sales.
“I don’t get to many Premier League games because I am travelling all over the world all the time, but I was not going to miss the biggest-ever event held in professional darts in the modern era.
“That’s what Leeds has given us, so hats off the everybody. The venue has made a real big pitch that they wanted us here and made us feel very welcome and most importantly the man in the street in Leeds has turned out in numbers to give their support.
“My first reaction is I want to bring boxing here next and we will be trying to do that in the next few months.”
Hearn already has a fighter in mind he thinks could become an Arena star.
“In boxing, you need local heroes,” he said. “There’s a kid in Leeds called Josh Warrington who is a really outstanding prospect. He is the kind of bloke who, if his career developed at the right speed and he had a venue behind him, he could put it on the map.”
Master of ceremonies John McDonald, who introduced the players for each match, was equally impressed.
“I have seen some atmospheres in my times and that’s one of them. Well done to the people of Leeds, it’s magnificent.”