The BBC put out a call for Eurovision 2023 host city applications, and in recent weeks a total of 20 cities submitted their “expressions of interest”. As part of this they were required to demonstrate how the city would reflect and celebrate Ukrainian culture in the show and surrounding events. Twenty cities responded with their vital details — from available arenas to available hotel rooms. Now, with the announcement of the host city shortlist, we know which seven cities are still in the race…
EBU Executive Supervisor Martin Osterdahl joined Zoe Ball on her Radio 2 breakfast show on Friday morning, and Scott Mills had the honour of revealing the list. The announcement was simultaneously broadcast on BBC 1’s flagship morning show Breakfast. It’s safe to say the Brits are riding a love wave following Sam Ryder’s second-place finish and the incoming party next May. As Scott pointed out during the announcement: “It’s exciting that we’re talking about Eurovision in August.”
But anyway, the seven cities are…
Eurovision 2023: BBC host city shortlist includes these 7 cities
The floated venue for Birmingham’s bid, The Resorts World Arena, is located in Solihull, and has a capacity of up to 15,000. The arena is located opposite the Resorts World Birmingham, an entertainment complex which features the largest casino in the United Kingdom as well as a shopping mall.
The Arena has also hosted major events in recent times, including ITV’s Concert for Ukraine in March, BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2010, 2016 and 2018 as well as the BBC Music Awards in 2015. Earlier this month it hosted the Commonwealth Games.
Mirroring the results on our informal Twitter and YouTube polls, Glasgow came out on top of our initial Eurovision 2023 host city poll with more than 21% of the vote. The city’s OVO Hydro Arena remains a fan favourite — partly because of its appearance in the Netflix hit Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga — but also because Scotland hasn’t hosted Eurovision since 1972 (and that time it was in Edinburgh). The city proved its ability to hold large-scale events at last year’s COP26 summit.
It would be amiss of us to talk about famous Loiners without mentioning those who have graced the Eurovision stage. Leeds even proudly holds a gold and silver medal from the Olympics of song. Sandra Stevens took the trophy back to the UK after winning Eurovision 1976 as a member of Brotherhood of Man. One year later, Mike Moran claimed second place at the 1977 contest alongside his duet partner Lynsey de Paul.
Caroline Barnes put Leeds back on the Eurovision map when representing the United Kingdom in 2007 as part of pop quartet Scooch. We can also thank Leeds for bringing together the Czech Republic’s Eurovision 2022 group We Are Domi — Dominika Hašková, Casper Hatlestad and Benjamin Rekstad met whilst studying at Leeds College of Music — and the trio have shown their support for bringing Eurovision to Leeds in 2023.
Harry Doyle — Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy — said:
“Making a major event like this possible in such a short timeframe is complicated and is going to need some careful and creative planning, but we think Liverpool would be the perfect stage to celebrate this unique Eurovision.”
The Beatles aren’t Liverpool’s sole musical export. As the only UNESCO City of Music in England, Liverpool has been commended for its contributions to the musical arts. Liverpool homes a wealth of concert halls and music venues, encompassing genres and styles from around the world. The city’s annual Africa Oyé festival in the largest celebration of African music in the country, attracting over 50,000 people to Liverpool’s Sefton Park every June. Elsewhere, the city is the stomping grounds of many British music greats, including Cilla Black, Atomic Kitten, The Wombats, Elvis Costello, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Coral, and Melanie C of The Spice Girls.
It’s home to the world-famous Manchester Arena, which has hosted everyone who is anyone in pop music. The BBC recently moved its Eurovision production hub to the BBC’s facilities in Salford, just outside the city. AJ Odudu even delivered the UK’s 12 points from the area last year. Manchester Arena is currently undergoing major renovation work, but it’s likely they can figure out a workaround and put that on pause.
The Utilita Arena Newcastle has a capacity of 11,000 and has hosted global acts including Janet Jackson, Rihanna, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga.
City Councillor Alex Hay of the Newcastle City Council stressed to The Chronicle that the city wants to show support for Ukraine, which can’t host the contest because of Russia’s ongoing war.
“We are delighted to be bidding to host Eurovision 2023 on behalf of Ukraine and stand in solidarity with its people. We are collaborating with partners across the region to help make this a reality for Newcastle, to do Ukraine proud and to embody everything that Eurovision stands for.”
“We’re committed to making Newcastle a better place for our residents and visitors, and hosting Eurovision will be a crucial tool in achieving that.”
The city of steel proposes using the Utilita Sheffield Arena, which has a capacity of around 13,600. Since opening in 1991, the venue has welcomed around 14 million people. That includes a lot of hockey fans: It’s home to the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey club. One Direction actually gave their very last performance here before going on hiatus in 2015. In a statement, the city council said:
“Sheffield stands in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, including those we have long been linked with in our twinned city Donetsk.”
“Sheffield has a proven reputation for hosting major international events – recently including UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, as well as hosting the World Snooker Championship for over 45 years. Later this year, Sheffield will host the Rugby League World Cup, as well as the prestigious figure skating grand prix, the MK John Wilson Trophy.”
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How is the Eurovision host city chosen?
The cities will now submit more detailed proposals and whoever “scores highest against the BBC’s criteria” will be named host city. Scott said we can expect an announcement in the autumn.
The BBC chooses the host city in conjunction with the European Broadcasting Union, the body that oversees Eurovision. As in recent years, the main criteria are…
- A venue with a capacity for at least 10,000 spectators
- A nearby international airport
- Hotel accommodation for 2,000 people
On top of this, we know from recent editions that the EBU requires a press centre for 1,500 journalists. However, as we saw in Turin, cost-cutting has led the EBU to dramatically slash that number. There were only 500 journalists allowed in the press room at Eurovision 2022.
Last year, Italian broadcaster Rai stipulated that the host city must have a venue that is available for six weeks before the event, two weeks during the show and a week after the end of the show for dismantling.
Importantly, this year the host city must emphasise how it will reflect Ukrainian culture.
Eurovision 2023 host city: Full BBC statement
Today the BBC confirmed the outcome of the first stage of the Host City bidding process for the 67th Eurovision Song Contest to be held in the United Kingdom in 2023.
The BBC had expressions of interest from 20 cities, across all four Nations of the UK. All applicants demonstrated how they would reflect Ukrainian culture, music and communities to mark the fact that Ukraine are the winners of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Seven cities have been shortlisted based on their ability to meet a set of minimum requirements that demonstrate they have the capacity, capability and experience to host an event of this scale and complexity. Given the short period of time available until the event will be staged, the selection process was heavily weighted towards demonstrating past experience in hosting major international events, as well as being able to demonstrate their credentials in hosting a celebration of contemporary music.
The Host City selection process is a two-stage process and these seven cities will now go through to the second and final stage, where they will be asked to develop their bids in more detail. The selection of the Host City for the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 will be decided by the BBC in conjunction with the EBU, and the successful city will be announced in the Autumn.
The final decision on the winning Host City will be determined by which city or region scores highest against an agreed evaluation criteria, assessed by the BBC. These criteria include: having a suitable venue and sufficient space to deliver the requirements of the Song Contest; the commitment that can be made by a city or region to hosting the event, including the financial contribution; the strength of the cultural offer which includes off screen local and regional activity as well as showcasing Ukrainian culture and music; and alignment with the BBC’s strategic priorities as a public service broadcaster, such as providing value to all audiences and supporting the creative economy in the UK.
Kate Phillips, BBC’s Director Unscripted Content says: “We would like to thank all of the cities and regions that submitted bids to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. We have seven fantastic cities who we are taking through to the next round.”
“Congratulations to Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield – it’s exciting to see such a breadth of bids going through from across the UK. We are committed to delivering a truly unique Song Contest that celebrates wonderful Ukraine and champions British music and creativity in all its diversity.”