Last night, National Television Ukraine welcomed the world to watch as they hosted an event normally held in the offices of Europe’s national broadcasters; the Eurovision Song Contest host city selection debate, or as NTU called it, ‘City Battle’. Presented by Timur Miroshnychenko, ‘City Battle’ was to showcase all six competing cities of Ukraine as they fought it out to win over both public opinion, and panel members Victoria Romanova (Ukraine’s Head of Delegation) and Ruslana.
Lviv, speaking first, focused upon transport infrastructure commenting on flights and the affordable underground service. Lviv’s choice of arena is ‘Arena Lviv’. Currently, there is no roof on the arena, but plans to add this to the structure are in place and ready to roll out.
The capital, Kyiv followed also commenting on transport infrastructure and their previous hosting of the contest in 2005 being the perfect example of it’s capability. The venue suggested, Palace of Sports, was the suggested venue as it was in 2005 – however concerns were raised regarding international sporting events due to be held in the arena over the dates of next year’s contest. The opening ceremony, to be held in Main Square, has already been financed and was last night suggested as the fan zone as a central location to all venues and activities.
Dnipro, the only other city to put forward a roofed venue, was next to speak. The mayor of the city was quick to mention the current war between Ukraine and Russia, mentioning that the region was Russian speaking, but highlighting that there are Ukrainian and English speakers also in the city. The major down fall of the bid focused on the airport, which currently only caters for domestic flights and a capacity of just 5,000 people per day – large financial injections would need to be made for the city to cope with not only the number of travellers, but the area set to host the fan zones which is not currently suitable.
The favourite host city of Jamala, winner of last year’s contest, Odessa, outlined arrangements for press of the contest. Propositions were made to host the contest and hold the press under the same roof, with nearby fanzones (including the famous ‘Euroclub’, being held outdoors). Odessa were criticised over accommodation, requiring cruise liners to hold additional guests to the region.
The penultimate city of Kharkiv noted the uncertainty of financing such an event, despite being the country’s second largest city. Being in the far east of Ukraine, the city is almost directly upon the Russian border, sparking discussions about the relativity to an active war zone, with the Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrayiny (the Ukrainian intelligence organisation) compound in the city. Despite this, the mayor promised security for the contest. For Kharkiv, fan zones would of course be central to Freedom Square.
Finally, Kherson closed the evening with by far the weakest bid, not even being able to put forward a suitable venue. The infrastructure for transport is lacking, and not enough hotels would be available for the event. National Television Ukraine appeared to have put this bid to one side.
NTU Ukraine spoke to Eurovoix prior to the event, commenting on the great live audience for the event including members of the press, media and the Organisational Committee. In the enthusiasm portrayed and the integration of social media with the event, it was clear to see that Ukraine’s national broadcasters wanted the public to be very much involved with the process, with the opinions shared by the public likely to sway the result. By this time last year SVT had already announced Globen Arena Stockholm as the host venue. The ‘City Battle’ may be over, but the decision to be made by National Television Ukraine is far from it.