After weeks of discussions, it was revealed on Monday that the U.K. would host the event on behalf of the war-torn nation — and the idea has evidently landed well with cities all around the country. Not even six hours since the news broke, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the contest, said in a statement that 16 cities plan to bid.
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“Bidding is expected to be competitive, with several mayors, councillors and MPs already informally expressing an intention to bid, including representatives from: Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wolverhampton,” said the EBU.
The BBC has staged the Eurovision Song Contest more times than any other broadcaster, hosting in London in 1960, 1963, 1968 and 1977, Edinburgh in 1972, Brighton in 1974, Harrogate in 1982 and Birmingham in 1998.
As soon as news of the U.K. being the host country was confirmed, Sadiq Khan, mayor of four-time host city London, tweeted: “London is ready and willing to step in. We would be honored to put on a contest that celebrates the people of Ukraine and shows off the very best of Britain.”
Variety reached out to the administrations of all the competing cities and the mood appears to be buoyant.
Birmingham and Leeds had revealed their decision to bid in June, with the former getting a first hand experience of staging a global event in the shape of the Commonwealth Games, which begin Thursday. Newcastle joined the fray earlier this month, with councillor Alex Hay talking up the city as “welcoming, well-connected and ambitious…with a proven track record of staging world class events.”
Similarly, Liverpool’s director of culture, Claire McColgan, told Variety: “We’re a city well-versed in staging major events, and if we meet the criteria we will definitely submit a bid. As a UNESCO City of Music, Liverpool is filled with joy, color and exuberance which would be a perfect match for Eurovision, and we would take the opportunity to pay tribute to Ukraine, standing in solidarity with its wonderful people and honoring their incredible resolve.”
Brighton and Hove had also revealed their intention to bid in June, and has already been in touch with relevant U.K. government departments to make their plans clear. Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty told Variety: “The circumstances in Ukraine that have led to the Eurovision Song Contest being hosted in the U.K. in 2023 are beyond tragic. But in Brighton and Hove we would pull out all the stops to be the ‘next best’ host. We firmly believe that as a U.K. city that’s previously hosted Eurovision, we have the people, the sheer musical talent and a proud place on the global stage to make Eurovision 2023 just as memorable and magnificent as 1974.”
Cafferty says that the Brighton and Hove administration is currently waiting for further information about dates, venue capacity and any other requirements that the EBU may have. While this year’s requirements haven’t been published yet, in addition to their vision for the contest, bidding cities are expected to demonstrate that they can meet a list of expectations to be provided by the EBU.
Last year, the EBU’s host city criteria was based on providing a venue that could accommodate at least 10,000 spectators, as well as a press centre, which should be within easy reach of an international airport and with ample hotel accommodation.
Edinburgh, a city with deep connections with Ukraine, having officially twinned as sister cities with Kyiv in 1989, is another keen potential host. City of Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day told Variety: “Edinburgh had the pleasure of hosting Eurovision 50 years ago at our very own Usher Hall — the first time it had been held outside London. Of course, I’d far rather the event was being held in Kyiv but, as its sister city and new home to many thousands of Ukrainians, Edinburgh would be a fitting host. Clearly, the scale of the event has grown since 1972, but we’ll look at all options and make a decision on whether to bid as soon as we can.”
Sheffield, located in South Yorkshire, twinned with Donetsk in Ukraine in 1956. South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard told Variety that Sheffield seems to be the “obvious choice” to host the contest.
“With Tramlines — the biggest urban music festival in Europe — we’ve just shown what a great show we’re capable of putting on,” said Coppard. “We’ve got an international airport right on our doorstep and world-class venues.”
Meanwhile, administrators in Aberdeen echo their rivals in saying that they have the people and infrastructure to support international events such as the contest. “It would provide a major boost to the Aberdeen and Scottish economies and raise the city’s profile with potential investors and visitors,” the administrators add.
The BBC and the EBU will await official approaches and applications from this week onwards and will publish the long list later in the summer.
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