It was a major shock to many Eurofans when the Netherlands’ capital Amsterdam withdrew its bid to host the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. In retrospect, the city’s vision for the hosting gig simply would not have worked anyway.

A reconstruction provided by Amsterdam’s main television channel AT5 makes it clear that Amsterdam faced significant obstacles to winning the hosting rights for Eurovision 2020. Perhaps the biggest struggle was finding the right venue.

Amsterdam’s pop palace Ziggo Dome backed out right away when its board understood that the venue would have to be handed over for at least eight weeks. The venue would have had to cancel many international stars, as April and May are usually the months when these acts travel to the Netherlands.

Amsterdam suggested a festival tent for Eurovision 2020

As the Johan Cruijf Arena was also occupied by football club AFC Ajax for Spring 2020, Amsterdam was left with no venue. This doesn’t mean they were left without any creative ideas.

The project group, consisting of at least thirteen civil servants responsible for the bid book, had the idea to erect a festival tent. This tent would include the main stage, dressing rooms as well as the press centre. The project group revealed that they were inspired by the Lowlands festival, an annual three-day pop and art festival held in Biddinghuizen, Flevoland, which is held in a tent.

One civil servant found a clause in the potential contract with a tent provider that said the tent is not to be used during adverse weather conditions. The Netherlands has unpredictable weather, so it would be impossible to safeguard the tent — a storm could strike at any point during Eurovision preparations.

In the past, festivals and their tents have suffered from the force of severe weather. In 2010, the preparations for the festival Zwarte Cross in the eastern town of Lichtenvoorde were hit by a series of landspouts, which blew away main stage’s tent. As a result, the festival had to be held in the open air. That is, of course, impossible for Eurovision as it needs to attach cameras, lights and other equipment to the ceiling of the venue’s roof.

Amsterdam is not the first city to explore a tent as a Eurovision venue. Both Vienna and Odessa considered tents for Eurovision 2015 and 2017 respectively. In 2014, Eurovision host city Copenhagen had a special tent complex for both the press centre as well as the dressing rooms.

Did the Amsterdam City Council know what they signed up for?

It’s worth asking whether the city council had any clue about the scope of the contest. The city had allocated a small budget compared to other cities in the bidding phase — just €5 million. Maastricht and Rotterdam each eventually budgeted three times as much.

Next to that, the project group wanted to rebrand Eurovision as SongFESTIVAL. The thinking seemed to be that the contest would have a “festival” feel with a complete village made of festival tents. In an internal email conversation, given to AT5, one civil servant said: “It’s quite a clever idea really. Finally something new in that somewhat conservative ESC club.”

Progressive or not, the Amsterdam City Council project group struggled with compiling a cohesive bidbook. In the weeks leading to the deadline, the city council sent a list of 170 questions to the Eurovision 2020 organising broadcasters.

After the deadline approached, and their tent idea didn’t pan out, the capital concluded that it had to withdraw.

Were you sad that Amsterdam backed out from hosting Eurovision 2020? Would you mind watching Eurovision from a festival tent? Let us know in the comments below!

Read all Netherlands Eurovision news here

Picture: NRC

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Marco
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Marco

I am glad this is Rotterdam and not the dirty with high and drunk tourist Amsterdam! I am Dutch and Rotterdam will be Epic and different …

Granny Smith
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Granny Smith

Thank God we’re getting Rotterdam instead

HarpyDarper
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HarpyDarper

So if the Netherlands wins again in the future, would the Ziggo done always be unavailable? If they really wanted it, could they host the contest in June or July (or is that unthinkable?)

Tents have been suggested over the years, but is this ever realistic? I know the MTV Europe awards have been in tents on two occasions (albiet smaller capacities)

Nevertheless, I’m happy Rotterdam has it, it’s a big oppertunity

Alybloggs
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Alybloggs

I thought they’re blaming the gays too.

YaYaYa
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YaYaYa

While I would have loved to have my city as the host city, it was just never going to happen. The Ziggo Dome’s event calendars for april/may were crazy the past few years, so I can imagine some big names had already taken those spots. May is also the start of the festival season, you can’t just move events to alternative locations – they’re already booked. The Johan Cruijff Arena was never a possibility, if Ajax were to have a long run in either of the european competitions (like they have last season and two seasons ago) they’d be screwed.… Read more »

Jan
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Jan

I’m all in for a Festival-like event instead the ESC club.
That would be awesome.

Missing 411
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Missing 411

stop being so Xanaxed out

Fast Food Music Lover
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Fast Food Music Lover

I appreciate the thoughtfulness and transparency.

Loin dici
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Loin dici

“Amsterdam’s pop palace Ziggo Dome backed out right away when its board understood that the venue would have to be handed over for at least eight weeks. The venue would have had to cancel many international stars, as April and May are usually the months when these acts travel to the Netherlands.”

Soldi, Soldi…

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

Rebranding it as a SongFESTIVAL is just keeping with the Dutch name for ESC – Eurovisiesongfestival. So rather than being a new idea to shake up the conservative ESC club, they were likely just wanting to use the familiar name that they were most comfortable with.

Jan
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Jan

Well, the new idea would have been to transform the euro club in a “festival”, as the summer festivals in NL. But, whatever.

Efraim
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Efraim

In Spain we’ve been calling it the Eurovision Song Festival for decades anyway…

Roelof Meesters
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Roelof Meesters

Well I was already glad that it wasn’t Amsterdam because it’s already packed with tourists and because The Netherlands has more to offer than just Amsterdam, but judging by this bid, I’m really glad they picked Rotterdam because this bid sounded like a disaster in the making, which is very dissapointing from Amsterdam.

KESC
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KESC

A tent in the capital city…? All right

Sara
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Sara

Wtf my country?? Tent??

Thank god we didn’t already make a fool of ourselves

Alex
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Alex

what a mess, it sounds like they were amateurs!! how is it possible that they could not book Ziggo Dome in advance or the stadium? How Sweden and Austria did it? Dusseldorf managed to find an alternative solution for the football team. They clearly were not that motivated i think.

Toffeenix
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Toffeenix

To be fair to them, there are a few differences between Duesseldorf’s situation and the situation here. Fortuna Duesseldorf were a second-tier team with only domestic 2. Bundesliga matches to play and therefore moving them is not so difficult. Ajax Amsterdam are the top team in the Netherlands and very potentially could be playing Champions League or Europa League semi-finals during this time, and their only options for a stadium would be to move in with another team (probably AZ, whose stadium seats only 17,000) or play at their youth team stadium, which seats only 5,000. So there wouldn’t be… Read more »

Polegend Godgarina
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Polegend Godgarina

wtf lol they’ve been smokin too many legal substances there in the amsterdam city council

123
Guest
123

wtf, thank god they withdrew