Eurovision host city competition narrows

While the announcement of the 2019 Eurovision host city could still be more than a month away, the race to hold the competition is narrowing.

Kan, the Israeli public broadcaster, confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Monday that just three cities remain in the running to host the song contest: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Eilat.

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Those three cities are the only ones that have and EBU following the publication of the criteria, and all three are giving it their all.

The Jerusalem Municipality began touting its readiness to host the competition in a press release on Monday.

The release trumpeted the city as 3,300 years old, and reunited for 51 years, before noting that it has recently hosted international sporting events including the Jerusalem Marathon and the Giro D’Italia.

The municipality has submitted a bid to host the Eurovision at the Payis Arena in Jerusalem’s Malha neighborhood. The 47,000 square-meter indoor stadium, which opened in 2014, can seat 11,200 people, and have space for 1,500 journalists, the municipality claimed.

But will the city compromise on a central sticking point – allowing rehearsals for the big finale show to be held on Shabbat?

In response to a request from the Post, Ariella Rajuan, head of the municipality’s Culture and Arts Division, said “Shabbat is an issue that is relevant in the entire State of Israel, not just in Jerusalem. Therefore it will be discussed with the Eurovision directors.”

A spokeswoman for the Tel Aviv Municipality told the Post that it had submitted a bid to host the competition in the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. The 50,000 square-meter space is divided into a series of pavilions, and mostly used to host conventions and conferences.

The newest construction, Pavilion 2, which was completed in 2015, can host events with up to 10,000 people, and has held many concerts, in addition to the European Judo Championships earlier this year.

The spokeswoman declined to offer any further details.

Kan confirmed that neither Haifa nor Masada – which had previously been suggested as options – submitted an official bid.

According to the criteria put forth by Kan, the host venue must seat 8,000-12,000 people, and must be completely free and available for the months of March to May 2019. The criteria also noted that the arena must be entirely enclosed, with the necessary lighting and sound equipment, and have an infrastructure in place to film the live shows.

Can any city besides for Tel Aviv or Jerusalem meet these standards? Eilat is still trying.

The city has reportedly submitted a bid to connect two large hangars at the city’s port, and construct a complex between them that would include 10,000 seats, a green room and space for reporters to view the competition. The designs, revealed in Israel Hayom last week, would require the majority of the infrastructure to be built from scratch. The Eilat Municipality did not respond to requests for comment.

So who has the best shot to host the 2019 competition?

Kan’s criteria note that it will give a “significant advantage” to a city offering an existing venue, which makes Eilat a long shot. The criteria also note that the EBU has a non-flexible schedule, which includes a great deal of activity on the weekends. While that doesn’t knock Jerusalem out of the running, the wording seems like a clear warning to the capital.

With the bids in and the criteria locked down, Tel Aviv appears to have the best shot at hosting the 2019 contest. But the EBU has said only that a decision will be made “by September.”