Could the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 have ended up in Finland instead of Sweden were it not for Malmö? The answer is yes according to a new report from Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.
Torbjörn Ek, the newspaper’s in-house Eurovision and Melodifestivalen expert, writes that the other cities that bid to host — that’s Stockholm, Gothenburg and Örnsköldsvik — were each ruled out because they fell short of one or more of the major criteria. Only Malmö — host city of Eurovision 2013 — had the total package in place. Had the state broadcaster SVT not gone with Malmö, then it may have had to hand the contest over to Eurovision 2023 runners-up Finland.
Let’s take the cities in turn.
Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg was a big favourite among Eurovision fans. It definitely has the tourist infrastructure, including airports and hotels. In fact, it frequently crops up in glossy travel magazines around the world. Among other publications, Condé Nast Traveler has praised its “ethical fashion shops” and “zero-waste restaurants,” and even dubbed it the world’s most sustainable city.
It’s also a regular stop on the SVT Melodifestivalen tour. But that doesn’t make up for one very big problem. As Aftonbladet explains, its Scandinvaium Arena is 50 years old, resembles a “small lump of concrete,” and its roof would need to be reinforced to cope with the ever-heavier demands of the Eurovision light rig.
Örnsköldsvik is a gorgeous coastal town with popular beaches and campsites….and one of the longest water slides in Europe (at the indoor water park Paradisbadet). And while the sea air and trip down the slide would be refreshing, the town on the Gulf of Bothnia just isn’t very accessible for tens of thousands of foreign tourists.
As Aftonbladet explains, “there are two flights a day to Örnsköldsvik” and they have just “50 seats on each flight.” The train from Malmö takes a whopping 10 hours and 40 minutes! And then there’s the ever-thorny issue of hotels and accommodation. There simply aren’t enough rooms…and not even a creative cruise ship hotel in the harbour is going to change that.
By now you all know that Taylor Swift has a gig booked in Stockholm’s famed Friends Arena on 17th May. Given that SVT needs the arena to be clear for four to six weeks before the contest and one to two weeks afterwards, there’s no way they could hold it there.
The city had floated the idea of a temporary arena near the SVT headquarters that would demonstrate a “sustainable” pop-up venue. But given the cost of living crisis — and Copenhagen’s experience losing money when it built its own temporary venue in 2014 — SVT had to look elsewhere.
As Aftonbladet put it: “The question marks surrounding an arena that doesn’t even exist, with all the known and unknown uncertainties it entails, simply became far too uncomfortable.”