During the Eurovision 2020 host city bidding process, candidate cities were given the opportunity to ask the organising committee key questions that would help shape their bid books. Their 171 questions have remained a secret. But, following a request via the Government Information Act, Dutch newspaper AD has now published some of the key queries and answers. Together they paint a picture of what the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and Dutch Public Broadcasting (NPO) have on their wishlist for Rotterdam 2020. Many of these points will be very familiar to fans of the Eurovision Song Contest as they are issues that come up every single year.
1. Eight weeks of the Eurovision Song Contest
As diehard fans are well aware, Eurovision officials don’t just book the venue for the week of the shows, or the week of rehearsals with artists that come before it. They typically need it for eight weeks to allow the production team to move in equipment, construct the stage and stage stand-in rehearsals before the artists even arrive.
The confidential documents show that Rotterdam Ahoy needs to be available for eight weeks. When asked whether further information can be provided about the planning, the answer was: “Around three weeks of load in and build-up, around three weeks of rehearsal, one week of general rehearsals and live shows and around one week of load out.”
Naturally, there are important requirements for the dressing rooms, as artists need to be able to get ready quickly and efficiently for the tight turnaround of the various numbers within the show. But organisers also need rooms for performers who aren’t competing.
“A dressing room is generally 20 square meters and we do have to take into account the extra spaces are required for presenters and opening and interval acts, among other things. Delegations count on average 35 people with offshoots to 52 people. The rooms have to be ready 15 days before the final.
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2. 3,000 hotel rooms within 30 minutes
The organization, consisting of the NPO, NOS and broadcaster AVROTROS, demanded that 3,000 hotel rooms be available within 30 minutes of the arena. And that is only for delegations, media, crew and VIPs.
“Fans and cardholders are not included in this number,” the broadcasters emphasized. “Shared accommodation such as holiday parks and temporary sleeping locations are excluded.” The minimum standard for those rooms is three-star.
A Rotterdam spokesperson stressed that “there are nearly 8,000 hotel rooms in three, four- and five-star hotels and hostels” nearby. “Thanks to the central location and good connections, there are even well over 20,000 rooms within an hour.”
3. Safety first
As with any major international event — from the Olympics to the World Cup — security needs to be on-point. The Rotterdam Ahoy will naturally transform into a bunker during its Eurovision season.
The basic requirement: “An enclosed area where it can be assured at all times that there are no objects or persons that could compromise safety.”
Organisers suggested that the venue think of itself as an international airport. “Consider, for example, the execution of one or more ‘sweeps’ (checks) by security guards and tracking dogs, the use of metal detectors, security cameras and sufficient security personnel”.
Ahoy spokesperson Kees de Jong confirmed all this to AD. “You won’t just come in,” he said. “Ahoy is going to be a bunker.”
Of course, this bunker will include a major stage. “The stage is estimated to be at least 40 meters wide, 25 meters deep and 16 meters high.”
4. A lounge for 400 super fans and free public transport
The organization requires space for 10,000 accredited delegation members. In addition to the 1,100 artists and their support staff, around 1,550 members of the press are also welcome. The crew counts 3,000 people and then the security staff and the police boost the number to around 1,400 people. VIPs, suppliers and others are in the books as another 2,500 people and then there are 400 super fans (aka accredited fans). In Eurovision speak, these people are divided among the delegation area/delegation bubble (for artists and their people) and the press centre (for accredited press). The press centre is typically divided into a press room for accredited press, and then a separate cafe/lounge area where accredited fans can hang out.
“The 10,000 people include everyone who has to be on location at a certain moment,” the spokesperson for the municipality of Rotterdam said. On the accommodation of those super fans, nothing is left to chance. They are close to the press centre and receive “workplaces, a lounge area, a few screens and a kiosk-like catering facility. And transport company RET has a big job ahead of them. Around 10,000 accredited guests should receive a free public transport pass.
5. Rotterdam and Ahoy offside with the ticket price
And what about ticket prices? As we’ve reported previously, the mayor wants those prices to go low. “The price of the tickets is determined by the Host Broadcaster in consultation with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU),” the cities were told. “The municipality and the organization have consultations about ticket prices, but the EBU and host broadcaster are decisive.”
None of the revenue from those sold tickets will go to Ahoy or the municipality of Rotterdam. They go to the broadcasters. “We will receive the rent for Ahoy later — that is our income,” Ahoy spokesperson Kees de Jong explained. Apparently Ahoy can keep the proceeds of the catering during the show.
Eight weeks in the Ahoy is not cheap. “We had to give a very large discount on the rent. I cannot give further details about the exact amount. But the exposure that this event produces brings it back in multiples.”
What are you most looking forward to? Which requirement are you most surprised about? Let us know in the comment section down below!