Eilat, Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv all want to serve as host city for Eurovision 2019. But now that Israeli broadcaster KAN has published the official criteria for hosting, it’s clear that we can scratch the first two cities off the list.
Yes, after weeks of chatter and endless debate, it seems Eurovision is heading to Tel Aviv — a hub of technology and Israel’s Eurovision community — or Jerusalem — the centre of Israel’s Orthodox community and one of the most historically significant cities in the world.
Eurovision 2019 Host City: The criteria
As reported by MAKO, KAN expects the host city to meet the following criteria (among other things):
- It must have a fully covered hall or arena that can accommodate between 8,000 and 12,000 spectators. Those numbers include both seats and standing positions.
- A press centre must be located nearby to accommodate around 1,500 journalists.
- Cities must have at least 3,000 hotel rooms.
- Host venue must be available between March and May 2019 for set-up and rehearsals.
KAN stressed its preference for arenas that are already meet requirements. On the surface that would eliminate Eilat — its arenas are too small — and Haifa. The latter’s Sammy Ofer Stadium has 30,000 seats, but it lacks a roof. Installing one would be both time-consuming and expensive.
It’s one of the most historic cities in the world and holds immense significance for Christians, Jews and Muslims. And while its international status is disputed and highly controversial, all sides agree it’s home to some of the most important buildings and religious sites in the world.
And it has plenty of experience hosting Eurovision. The International Convention Center, which hosted Eurovision in both 1979 and 1999, is considered too small for Eurovision 2019. It has a capacity of just 3,100, which wouldn’t work with the new super-sized Eurovision, which includes two semi-finals, a grand final, and, more typically, tens of thousands of audience members. Teddy Soccer Stadium, which has 31,000 seats, does not have a roof.
That leaves us with Jerusalem Pais Arena, which does meet the requirements. The multi-purpose sports hall has a roof and can house nearly 16,000 for concerts.
There is one major strike against Jerusalem: questions over whether it can honour commitments to the weekend rehearsals and jury show, which would violate the Sabbath.
As we previously reported, Orthodox religious leaders have demanded that Eurovision not desecrate the Sabbath, which takes place from sundown on Friday evening (just before the jury final would start) and ends on Saturday evening.
Those tensions could tilt the balance away from the city and toward Tel Aviv.
Today Mako suggested as much in its article entitle, “Will the Sabbath lead the Eurovision Song Contest to Tel Aviv?”
It wrote: “Due to the expected opposition of Haredi parties to the competition in Jerusalem due to desecration of the Sabbath, this demand will eventually lead to the selection of Tel Aviv as the host of the competition.”
Israel’s second most populous city boasts a stunning Mediterranean coastline and attracts more than 2.5 million international travellers every year. They stay at hotels at every price point — from hostels to über luxe — and enjoy some of the wildest nightlife in all of the Middle East. We’re huge fans of the city and have attended the last three editions of Israel Calling.
Bloomfield Stadium is a 14,000-capacity football venue currently undergoing renovations that will raise its capacity to 29,000. It’s scheduled for completion in 2019, but would need a roof. That rules it out.
However, Tel Aviv has two other options: The Menora Mivtachim Arena, which is used primarily for basketball, can host around 11,000 for sporting events, and Pavillon 2 at The Tel Aviv Convention Center, which can hold around 10,000.
Tel Aviv calling? Israel’s @haaretz has quoted an unnamed senior official in the Finance Ministry. The source claims that Pavillon 2 at the #TelAviv Fairgrounds is the favourite to host #eurovision 2019 ?? He or she says it’s the most financially viable and avoids a number of issues in Jerusalem. Haaretz says it has a capacity of 10,000, which is smaller that Alice Arena in Lisbon, which welcomed 18,000. Full story on wiwibloggs.com #eurovisionsongcontest #eurovision2019 #esc2019
As we previously reported, officials within the Finance Ministry have told reporters that the Pavillon is the most economically viable option. And Tamir Dayan, CEO of the convention centre, has been positioning the venue as a potential host for weeks. She told Haaretz: “If it is decided that Eurovision will not take place in Jerusalem, we will be happy to host it.”
The Tel Aviv mayor also seems hungry to secure the bid. He said: “Tel Aviv is suitable both in terms of infrastructure, and in terms of absorption of guests and the possibilities offered to them and in terms of being the cultural city center of Israel” .