Swedish cities rush to bid for the Eurovision Song Contest
Stockholm, Malmö, and Gothenburg all want to be the next Eurovision host, as Globen Arena falls out of the running
By Anna-Liina Kauhanen in Stockholm
Sweden, one of the giants of the Eurovision Song Contest, is hosting the competion for the fourth time, following its fifth victory last weekend.
Before the winner, Loreen Talhaoui, had even made it back to Sweden on Monday evening, competition over the honour of hosting the contest had already started in earnest.
The rewards for hosting the Eurovision Song Contest are a boosted reputation and big bucks.
Last time the song contest was held in Sweden, back in 2000, the event brought Stockholm-based companies tens of millions of Euros in profits.
However, Stockholm's chances of reaping a new windfall are just a tiny bit threatened.
The current status quo is that Stockholm's handsome Globen Arena (the venue in 2000) will not be available to host next year's finals.
At least if the provisional timetable for the song contest holds, with semi-finals on May 14th and 16th and the final the following Saturday, the 2013 Ice Hockey World Championships will still be going on at the arena, and will effectively scotch any use by singers from around Europe and those countries that become "European" for the event.
Globen's discomfort could be a bonus for others. Both Gothenburg and Malmö would be happy to welcome the guests of the song contest again, as both have hosted the contest before.
Gothenburg were hosts in 1985 after the Herreys won with Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley, and Malmö did the job in 1992 after the narrow victory on a count-back of Carola Häggkvist and Captured by a Storm Wind.
Gothenburg and Malmö are well prepared, having booked arenas and even hotel rooms for the event already.
Still, most bets are on the choice going to the soon-to-be-completed Friends Arena in Stockholm's Solna municipality. That, too, has already been booked for the contest, the finals of which will be on the 18th of May.
Thomas Perslund, the director of the Arena set to be completed in October, was on a ‘reconnaissance mission’ at the Baku semifinals.
There are those who would probably prefer the contest stays away from Swedish territory altogether, such as Björn Söder, the party secretary of the Sweden Democrats.
When the Swedish victory was confirmed, Söder's Facebook and Twitter update read "Sverige?" [Swedish: "Sweden?"]
Söder's comment was interpreted by social media as reflecting anti-foreign sentiment, as Loreen Talhaoui has Moroccan roots.
Söder was forced to explain his comment on the Sweden Democrats website.
There, Söder explained that he thinks it’s a shame that countries don't perform contest songs in their own native tongue any longer. As an artist, Söder described Loreen as fantastic.
Sweden's public broadcaster SVT was already oozing confidence before the finals in Baku.
According to Eva Hamilton, director of SVT, the company had already been preparing for next year's Eurovision shindig before Loreen romped home to victory.
SVT will be deciding on where the contest should be held in the next few days.
The SVT team has already visited Norway to study the organisation of the Eurovision Song Contest held in Oslo in 2010.
Money won't be an issue, said Hamilton, even though the contest will cost over an estimated 100 million crowns, or over ten million euros.
The Swedish budget is much smaller than that of Baku, and one reason for that is that Sweden already has large amounts of the technical skills required for the hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest.
A part of the budget will come from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and more will come from sponsors. According to Hamilton, SVT will not be requiring additional contributions as a result of the song contest victory.
The Swedes are in a better place than some other broadcasters: a good many strapped public broadcasting executives (some not far from here) are known to bite their nails to the quick during the annual contest, in fear that their country might have to foot the bill for the next year's extravaganza.
There were rumours going around, for instance, that the Spanish entry this year was hoping for no better than second place. She finished tenth.
Finland has hosted the event once, in 2007, following the runaway win in Athens by Lordi's Hard Rock Hallelujah.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 29.05.2012
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COMMENTARY: A local tournament?
Previously in HS International Edition:
Serbian ballad wins Eurovision Song Contest - Belgrade hosts in 2008 (14.5.2007)
Eurovision Song Contest postcards are small stories (9.5.2007)
Eurovision Song Contest brings hundreds of events to Helsinki streets (26.4.2007)
Finland´s Pernilla Karlsson eliminated in Eurovision semi-final (23.5.2012)
Eurovision Song Contest (Baku 2012)
2012 Eurovision Song Contest (Wikipedia)
ANNA-LIINA KAUHANEN / Helsingin Sanomat