The City of Utrecht and its potential venue, Jaarbeurs, are confident that they can host the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest next year. With only eight cities remaining in the race, let’s check out what Jaqueline Bakker from Jaarbeurs has to say about her city’s Eurovision bid!
Dutch media portal AD.NL caught up with Jaarbeur’s Jaqueline Bakker about Utrecht’s ambitions to welcome the Eurovision bandwagon in 2020.
When Duncan Laurence won the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Jacqueline was sleeping. But the following morning when she saw that the Netherlands could organize the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest, she did not hesitate for a minute to bring the competition home:
It must be a party for the city and region.
Within four weeks, the Municipality of Utrecht , Jaarbeurs and other parties – must submit a bid book to the NPO. Jaarbeurs has taken the lead in drafting the document, which should win over the organzing body consisting of NPO, NOS and AVROTROS and then the EBU in order to get the competition to Utrecht.
Jacqueline goes on to say that there is huge interest in the city to bring the competition on home soil:
Within Jaarbeurs, there is great enthusiasm to cooperate in order to bring the song contest home.
Ms. Bakker is responsible for the rental of the hall, conference and meeting rooms within the Jaarbeurs premises. She is very much the person in charge to at Jaarbeurs to call the shots when it comes to bring the contest home:
Everyone wants to be in the project team. I have rarely had so many phone calls and emails.
She doesn’t have to think long about an explanation for the enthusiasm among the employees:
It is not only a fun and pleasant international event, but also unique that the Netherlands can hold the contest. It is a piece of history. Everyone wants to be there.
Bakker’s first Eurovision memory dates from 1975, when she was five years old. She recalls being at home on the couch with her parents she saw the Dutch pop group Teach-In in Stockholm, Sweden, winning the ESC with Ding-a-dong in black and white. Over the years she has continued to follow the contest. She still remembers some Dutch Eurovision entries from the past such as The Toppers‘ Shine and Sieneke’s Sha-la-lie:
Not necessarily because I liked these songs, but because they stood out.
Bringing Eurovision to Utrecht
Last month, during the 2019 Eurovision Grand Final in Tel Aviv, Bakker was not glued to the tv:
I was at a party. When I got home, I watched a little, but I did not wait for the results that took a long time. I went to sleep. The next morning around half past six , I always get up early, I saw that Duncan had won.
A few hours later that Sunday morning the management of Jaarbeurs met for an earlier planned meeting.
During that meeting we decided that we wanted to bring the Eurovision Song Contest to Utrecht. We got out quickly. If you look at our extensive experience with major music events such as Das Coen, Sander Fest and television productions such as the Zapp Sinterklaas party, then the Eurovision is part of that.
In the weeks prior to the contest, the word Eurovision sometimes rang a bell at Jaarbeurs, but it wasn’t about organizing the contest at the time:
The question was of course whether the Netherlands would really win. The track record, with our last victory 44 years ago, was not great.
The morning after Duncan’s victory, Jaarbeurs immediately made the first contact with the Municipality of Utrecht and other organizations in the city such as Utrecht Marketing.
The Eurovision Song Contest is more than six evenings in the Jaarbeurs. The total program must be a party for the city and region that lasts a few weeks.
Bakker draws a comparison with the Tour de France, which started in 2015 in Utrecht. The run-up to the start of the cycle race was celebrated in a big way.
Jaarbeurs is ready for Eurovision
Last week, the nine cities competing for hosting Eurovision 2020l, received a program of demands from the NPO. The requirements are not made public, but concern the capacity of a location, technical facilities, accommodation, infrastructure and accessibility. For example, it was previously known that a location must offer space to at least accomodate 10,000 spectators. There must be sufficient hotel rooms in and around the city. And the accessibility from Schiphol International Airport must be good.
If Armin van Buuren can handle A state of Trance with 35,000 specatators, why can’t we the host the Eurovision Song Contest?
Bakker is not worried about the generally known requirements that the NPO has placed on the candidate cities. Hall 1, where the main Eusrovision stage is planned to be set up, is 14,000 square meters in size:
Technical requirements cannot be the problem. The advantage of a spacious empty hall is that you can design it the way you want. We can give Hall 1 the form that the NPO and the EBU want. The other halls are outside can house the press centre, changing rooms and catering.
Accessibility is also not a concern.
From Schiphol, Utrecht is only 30 minutes by train and with four thousand places we also have no shortage of parking spaces.
Bakker does not see it as a hurdle that not all the Eurovision visitors will be able to sleep in Utrecht:
There are plenty of accommodation options around Utrecht.
One of the pieces of the puzzle that still needs to be completed in the coming weeks is the financing of the Eurovision Song Festival. The NPO would estimate the costs around 25 million euros. Bakker is not worried about financing:
I can’t imagine that we won’t get the party funded in a rich country like the Netherlands.
Instead of talking about the costs, Bakker prefers to look at the revenues for the Utrecht region:
I’m a commercialist.
She is certain that the region will benefit from the Eurovision Song Contest:
Not only around the event, but because of all the interest the competition will gear, the Eurovision Song Contest will put the city on the international map in the years to come, which will also be good for the economy of the region. I’m convinced of that.
Dare to Dream
The last Eurovision slogan was Dare to Dream. Bakker has already unveiled her first thoughts go about a potential slogan for Utrecht:
Utrecht is strongly committed to Healthy Urban Living. Healthy living in an urbanized environment, is not only the future for Utrecht, but for the whole world. But Utrecht also has other great core values that we can build on.
The 2020 Host City Bid Process
Initially a total of nine cities officially applied to host the 2020 Eurovision edition, after Leeuwarden’s withdrawal only eight candidates remain in the race:
- Den Bosch
- The Hague
Applicant cities have to submit their respective bid books to the organizing body by 10 July 2019. The 2020 Eurovision Host City is expected to be unveiled in August.
The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest will be co-produced by three Dutch public broadcasters NOS, AVROTROS and NPO in liason with the EBU.