Members of the International Eurovision Fan Club OGAE have today been informed that the floor area in Malmö Arena will be standing room only for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. In a departure from previous years there will be no seating available at all on the floor of the arena, and this will enable the organisers to get more people into the arena. This is probably also part of how SVT and EBU are planning to bring the fans in the audience back into the heart of the contest.
The flag waving and colourful fan area in front of the stage was first introduced in 1998 in Birmingham, when the organisers from BBC gave members of the fan clubs a chance to get their own ticket allocation for the televised final. This approach was abandoned for one year in 1999, as the venue in Israel was too small, only for it to return fully fledged in Stockholm in 2000, when SVT last organised the song contest. Now it seems the fan crowds will have standing room only at the front of the stage, while those wanting to sit down would have to book their tickets via the normal outlets.
Ever since the demand for fan club tickets have grown steadily and the allocation has been oversubscribed most years. The biggest quota of fan tickets was in Düsseldorf, where 2000 tickets were sold to members of the international fan clubs. It is expected around the same number, or even bigger, may be getting standing room only tickets in Malmö in May next year. Maiken Mäemets, President for OGAE International, tells esctoday.com that after SVT first offered the standing room tickets for the fans, there were some negotiations to get seated areas reinstated, but eventually it was decided to try this sort of arrangement at least for one year. The whole floor area will be available to OGAE and INFE members only, she says, and the pricing of the tickets is still under negotiation, and there is no indication there would be any significant rise in the price level. We also have wonderful other plans for arrangements in the host city and the Euroclub for the fans, so even if standing for more than three hours seems like too much, nobody should stay at home for that reason only, Maiken Mäemets concludes on behalf of OGAE International.
It is understood the floor area of Malmö Arena will be divided into three zones, one larger one in the middle and two on the sides. This will follow standard practice in many pop concerts today, where the standing room tickets are often well sought after, and people even queue long in advance of concerts to secure a spot right in front of the stage. It should be safe to assume that the Eurovision fan crowd will not get involved in similar bad behaviour and crushing that have marred some concerts of other musical genres, and the different zones will divide people more evenly. It will however be the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, when there are visible standing crowds in the audience. Screaming fans are neither no novelty in the song contest: already in 1968 groups of fans supporting Cliff Richard can be heard from the top tiers of Royal Albert Hall in London, even if never seen on the televised output.