After months of city bids, today it was finally announced that the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest will be held at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam. But what can we expect from the host venue and surrounding area? In a series of features we will pour over the details, so you don’t have to and provide a handy guide to all the on-site facilities for the arena and key locations you’ll be attending next May!
About the Ahoy Arena
Opened in 1971, the Ahoy Arena started life immediately as a prime asset to promoting music, sport and culture to the people of Rotterdam. Widely known as the biggest and best venue in the country, it has hosted the MTV EMAs on two occasions, as well as hosting the Junior Eurovision Contest in 2007. Therefore it already has a wealth of experience of meeting the needs of an international production as large as Eurovision.
The venue itself is well situated with accessible transport links whether arriving by train, bus, bike or car. Yes that’s right, I said bike! The go to get around in The Netherlands is catered for. Health conscious Eurofans wanting to blow out the haze of their nights in Euroclub can find a bike shed to park their two wheel transport. Not far from the main entrance is the nearest metro line. Whether arriving by bus or train it’s a 5 minute walk to the arena. After the shows you can connect from Zuidplein to Rotterdam Central Station in roughly 12 minutes. For reference, those staying further away can connect to The Hague Central in 43 minutes.
However extra public transport services will be supplied to cover the expected increased demands presented by Eurovision visitors. There is parking for 2000 spaces available for those arriving by car at the venue. This is charged at 13 euros. Further car parking facilities are available within the locality.
So what about the venue in the context of hosting Europe’s oldest song contest? Over the past few months Rotterdam Ahoy have funded significant investment into projects to increase seating and the facilities in the venue. New seating optimisations in April 2019 have increased the capacity to 16,426. Also on the way in 2020 is a new Rotterdam Ahoy Convention Centre, with 2,750 capacity and a new 7,000 seater theatre for the Rotterdam Ahoy complex. This means overall capacity on site will increase by 50%.
As can be seen, the grounds are easily navigated and accessible by all methods of public transport. Those arriving on foot have numerous access points and the use of space within the complex is well defined. The reference points P1/2/3 are marked for guest car parking. Additionally the areas marked P4/5/6 are reserved for parking for staff and the organisation. P5 has also been signposted as the location for the Production Compound. This is due to its close proximity to the Ahoy Arena.
Ahoy Arena capacity
Although the capacity stands at a maximum of 16,426, the allocation for the 2020 contest will depend on the specification of the stage design. However, as a rough guide the current layout is as follows:
- Standing: 7,500
- 1st ring seats: 3,328
- Standing 1st ring seats: 500
- 2nd ring seats: 5,078
Thus all being well, it should mean with such a large expanse of space to work with, there will be plenty of tickets at all levels and price bands available for fans.
Of course with rehearsals, two semi-finals and a grand final there needs to be appropriate accommodation for the crew and attending delegations. In 2020 the green room could potentially return to being inside the arena. Although if demand for guest seating and space requires it, the green room could be held in Hall 1.
Every year sees increased press coverage and demand for a large working space. So Hall 2 will be designated as the Press Centre. This area is 3770m2 and can house 750 people. The adjacent Ahoy Plaza will serve as the Accreditation Centre. For press, fans and delegations to collect their passes on arrival. For the press conferences, these will be held in the 3600m2 Hall 4, next to the Press Centre.
Seven production offices are located within the complex. Hall 1 will undergo a reduced capacity for office space using temporary walls. Hall 1 and Port 1 and 2 will also be used for catering. As well as dressing rooms and working spaces for attending delegations. The commentators booths will be positioned around the first ring of the arena.
In Hall 5, which is 3100m2, there will be a Fan Lounge set up. This area will also provide more catering for both fans and press. Furthermore there will be a Hospitality area located in Hall 3. Also with a floor space of 3100m2, this area hopes to provide memorable fan experiences through partner sponsors. Of course merchandise stalls will be found in various locations around the site. Cloakrooms are available on-site. However this comes at a cost of 2 euros per item. Also large bags and backpacks are not permitted.
Now you know about the arena and the grounds. So let the current winner, Duncan Laurence give us all a warm ahoy to Rotterdam, as we look forward to visiting on 12th, 14th and 16th May 2020!
Will you be attending the contest next May? Let us know in the comments and on social media @ESCXTRA