Politicians attempt to save Eurovision Island improvements
With the choice of Refshaleøen as the 2014 Eurovision location, later to be renamed Eurovision Island for the two Eurovision weeks, a massive renovation of the island and venue had to be undertaken.
Now, because of the EU, it will all come down.
Improvements worth millions
First off, there was the daunting task of converting an old shipyard into a venue suitable for one of the world’s biggest TV events, with room for over 10.000 audience members. This included creating a new superstructure inside the halls, capable of carrying the load of light and sound rigs, removing two load-bearing pillars in the process.
The island itself also had to get a much-needed update of practical utilities and infrastructure, such as new plumbing, sewage, drainage, internet and phone cables, and repaving of streets.
To finance this, the temporary project management company created for Eurovision, Host City Copenhagen, received funding worth millions from the Danish government and local municipality, having to inject more and more money as budgets were exceeded.
Taking everything down – everything
The stage, lighting, audience seating, and tents for the press center, backstage area, and more were the first to go, as most of it was rented and had to go back to the suppliers.
It took more than a month to build the huge stage, but just 17 hours to take it all down again. Half an hour after Conchita’s victory, the touch sensitive floor had already been removed.
But because of an EU directive that forbids public funds from supporting private companies, creating unfair conditions for competition, everything has to be put back to the state it was in when Copenhagen was selected as host city back in September 2013. Refshaleøen and its properties, including the B&W Halls, are owned by the private company REDA.
Not only will the superstructure created inside the halls need to be torn down, with the previously removed pillars re-installed, all improvements on the entire island will have to be reverted. This includes digging up the installed phone and internet cables, along with the new sewage lines, plumbing, new asphalt, and everything else.
EU laws have to be flexible
This is of course a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money and local politicians have now reacted, attempting to at least save the infrastructural improvements to the area.
Carl Christian Ebbesen, Mayor of Culture of the city of Copenhagen, believes private investors could buy into the island, replacing the public funds with private. “I have requested a report about what has been done to that effect and expect an answer in the Finance Committee this Tuesday. The EU laws have to be flexible, anything else would be meaningless,” he said to Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten.
Several other officials have urged the Danish Minister of Culture to bring it up with the EU.
Always the plan
The deconstruction has always been a part of the plan and is a part of the Host City Copenhagen budget for Eurovision 2014.
“From the beginning we have had the understanding that this was a temporary installation, but the recent debate has shown an increased interest from City Hall among others, in keeping some of the more permanent things, but that’s a political dialogue that needs to be taken, but we are happy to contribute to it,” said Emil Spangenberg of Host City Copenhagen.
A report from Wonderful Copenhagen, the official tourism agency of the Danish capital, is expected within the coming months, detailing the impact of Eurovision on Copenhagen and the value of the improvements done to Refshaleøen.