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Austrian provinces jostle for Eurovision 2015

Rosie Waites · 13 May 2014, 10:03

Published: 13 May 2014 10:03 GMT+02:00

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Upper Austrian Green Party politician Rudi Anschober was quick to get a discussion going on Facebook with the suggestion "Let's get the next Song Contest 2015 to Linz." Upper Austria's governor Josef Pühringer agreed: "Upper Austria is available as a venue for the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 and has formally made an early application." 

"Linz stands for tolerance and freedom with its place on the beautiful, colourful Danube," tourism boss Georg Steiner said in an interview with OÖNachrichten. He suggested that accommodation options could be boosted by using ten cruise ships as hotels. 
In Styria, the province where Conchita Wurst's creator Tom Neuwirth grew up, the operator of the Schwarzlsee amusement park has already sent an application to the state broadcaster ORF. And Styria's capital Graz has offered its city hall as an option - pointing out that Neuwirth has been attending Graz fashion school since he was 15. 
"Where else but Vienna's Stadthalle?", said Wolfgang Fischer, head of the City Hall. He says he could offer the ORF three rooms, each measuring 16,000 square metres and an additional hall with 10,000 square metres. 
"Next year's contest should take place in our city of diversity, in Oberwart," Burgenland's governor Hans Niessl was quick to say. Lower Austria has also been speaking to the ORF. 
The state broadcaster will make a decision in two months. Director General Alexander Wrabetz said he was pleased with the "incredible response from almost all provinces" in their eagerness to host the event. He said the ORF would be taking into account not only the location, but also available infrastructure such as hotels and transport. 
ORF Finance Director Richard Grasl estimates that staging Eurovision 2015 will cost the corporation about 20 million euros - although some of this will be offset by ticket sales. Wrabetz said the ORF could afford the event but that it would need strong support from the government and whichever province ends up hosting the event. 
However some ORF staff members (who wished to remain anonymous) have told The Local that not everyone is happy about having to foot the bill for the song contest as many programmes and departments are struggling with budget cuts. 
In 1967, the year after Austria's previous Eurovision win by Udo Jürgens, Vienna hosted the song contest in the grand Hofburg Palace, with capacity for 1,100 people. 
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Rosie Waites (rosie.waites@thelocal.com)

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