Portsmouth won't bid to host Eurovision 2023 as the city lacks a suitable venue, councillor says

AS CITIES across the UK prepare to bid to host Eurovision 2023, Portsmouth councillors have explained why the city would score ‘nul points’ as a venue and won’t be putting itself forward.

Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 3:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 4:18 pm
Sam Ryder attends the dress reharsals ahead of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final at Reggia di Venaria Reale on May 13, 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Giorgio Perottino/Getty Images)
Sam Ryder attends the dress reharsals ahead of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final at Reggia di Venaria Reale on May 13, 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Giorgio Perottino/Getty Images)

The Eurovision song contest has announced that a UK city will host the competition in 2023, due to the ongoing conflict in this year’s winning nation, Ukraine.

The host city will be decided in the coming months, with many of the UK’s biggest cities set to apply.

Reports have suggested that senior politicians in more than a dozen cities are keen to put in bids, ranging from Aberdeen to Swindon, as well as London, Cardiff, Belfast, and Edinburgh.

A long list of cities is expected later this summer before the winner is announced at the end of the year.

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But Portsmouth won’t be among those competing – as the city lacks a suitable venue, according to Portsmouth City Councillor Steve Pitt, the council’s lead for culture, leisure and economic development.

Cllr Pitt said: ‘There’s a lot of enthusiasm for Eurovision in Portsmouth. I think there would certainly be an appetite for it.

‘It’s not that there’s no interest, we just clearly don’t fit the criteria.

‘My understanding is that the criteria for the venue is a capacity of 10,000, therefore we don’t have that space.

‘Maybe if we did, we would put a bid forward.’

Responding to the idea of an open-air Eurovision across Southsea Common, he added: ‘If I was a Eurovision manger, taking on the extra layer of the weather with all the IT needed – I wouldn’t touch that with a barge pole.’

In order to be chosen to hold the competition, cities must demonstrate that they have a 10,000-seater venue, and the host city must be located within close proximity to an international airport.

Prospective host cities must also have enough hotel rooms to house 2,000 delegates.

Cllr Pitt said the council was always interested in hearing proposals for large venues within the city.

He said: ‘We’re an island – we just don’t have the land. If you look at where the larger venues are, there tends to be land surrounding them.

‘It’s not been dismissed by any means – and should the right proposal be put forward, we would want to be having that conversation.’