The city of Maastricht has been left empty handed now that Rotterdam will organise Eurovision 2020. As the haze clears over that decision, it’s emerged that a contract between Maastricht and the Dutch broadcaster NPO/NOS could have been a factor.
Im August NOS asked both Rotterdam and Maastricht to sign a ‘concept agreement’ with the trio of organising broadcasters. The city council of Maastricht discussed the document in August during a council meeting. The records of that meeting have been kept secret — until now. The news website of NOS states that Maastricht rejected that document, calling it a “contract that strangles us.”
The councillor of Finance for Maastricht, John Aarts, was reportedly “in shock” after reading it. It also reveals that the Council had already decided that it would not renovate or adjust the venue, MECC. As fans are well aware, the roof of MECC was too low to actually meet the requirements set by EBU and NPO/NOS.
During the meeting Councillor Aarts said:
“A few days ago the current status (of the bid) has been discussed and in that meeting especially it was discussed that Maastricht, seeing the developments of the bid and seeing the additional requirements, had to look into the possibility of renovating/adjusting the the venue, MECC, to give the bid more of a chance. It was then explained that the council came to the conclusion that it is — in regards to the tender, permits, finances and looking at the future destination of MECC, and perhaps also to the inhabitants of the region around MECC — unresponsible to do such a renovation. The council will continue the bid, but without the renovation. Further, the council is also ‘in shock’ in regards to the concept agreement that the NOS asks us to sign”.
The following was agreed upon by the council in regards to the concept agreement:
“The NPO asks the host city / region to submit the final bid book with a signed concept agreement. Maastricht / Limburg has extensively and legally assessed the concept agreement and concluded that the risks deposited with the city / region are unacceptable. Following these findings, it was decided to make a counter proposal for the concept agreement. The city attorney then, in cooperation with the municipality, the province and the MECC
adjusted the agreement in such a way that the risks for Maastricht / Limburg became manageable. The details of this agreement were shared with you during the council meeting of 8 August. The council chooses
not to sign the concept agreement of the NPO, but the adjusted version”.
Given its refusal to fulfil the broadcaster’s requirements, Maastricht may already have ruled itself out of contention on August 8. However, Head of Communications for Eurovision 2020 Babet Verstappen Has denied this in Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad:
“The most important argument (to choose Rotterdam) was the better suitability of the proposed location. Organizing the Eurovision Song Contest is a big responsibility. The host city has historically played a crucial role in this. It is appropriate that solid agreements are made between the organizing broadcaster and the host city. “
In Rotterdam, they didn’t seem to have a problem with the concept agreement. Councillot Said Kasmi from Rotterdam has said:
“We have signed a contract for a ‘partnership’ based on normal relationships between the client and the contractor. ‘The interests of’ Rotterdam and its partners are represented there”.