Rotterdam Ahoy

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Rotterdam Ahoy
Rotterdam Ahoy 2016.jpg
AddressAhoyweg 10
3084 BA Rotterdam
Coordinates51°52′58″N 4°29′17″E / 51.88278°N 4.48806°E / 51.88278; 4.48806Coordinates: 51°52′58″N 4°29′17″E / 51.88278°N 4.48806°E / 51.88278; 4.48806
OwnerOntwikkelingsbedrijf Rotterdam
OperatorAEG / ASM Global
Inaugurated15 January 1971
Renovated1980, 1998, 2011
Expanded1980, 1997, 2020
Former names
Ahoy Rotterdam
Banquet/ballroom650 (Congreszaal)
Theatre seating
16,426[1] (Ahoy Arena)
6,000 (Club Ahoy)
4,000 (Theater Hal 1)
7,819 (RTM Stage)
Enclosed space
 • Total space54,000 m2 (580,000 sq ft)
 • Exhibit hall floor32,230 m2 (346,900 sq ft)
 • Breakout/meeting2,825 m2 (30,410 sq ft)
 • Ballroom30,000 m2 (320,000 sq ft)
Parking2,000 spaces
Public transit accessRET metro logo.svg  D   E  Zuidplein

Rotterdam Ahoy (formerly known as Ahoy Rotterdam or simply as Ahoy) is a convention centre and multi-purpose indoor arena located in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Opened originally in 1950, the current complex consists of three main venues: a fairs and event hall, a congress and conference centre, and the Ahoy Arena. The latter (informally known as the Sportpaleis, lit.'Sport Palace')[2] opened on 15 January 1971 and is the largest venue, with a capacity of 16,426 as of April 2019.[1][3]

Background and history[edit]

Original exhibition hall[edit]

The venue has a history dating back to 1950. After the devastation of World War II, Rotterdam city and harbor were rebuilt. In 1950, the harbor was almost finished, and the event was marked with the exhibition Rotterdam Ahoy!. The exhibition was held in a single hall that was built for the occasion and was located where the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam is today.[4] The temporary exhibition hall was called Ahoy'-Hal and was used for both national and international events until 1966 when it was decided to demolish the hall. During the North Sea flood of 1953, the hall was also used as a shelter for flood victims.[5][6] After 1966, temporary accommodation was found at Hofdijk/Pompenburg in the center of Rotterdam, on the site of a former heliport.

Current Ahoy complex[edit]

Ahoy Arena (Sportpaleis) during the six-day track cycling race in 1975
Rotterdam Ahoy in April 2007

Construction work on the site of the present day complex began in 1968. The Sportpaleis, originally designed as an indoor velodrome,[7] and three exhibition halls was completed in 1970. The official opening took place during Six Days of Rotterdam, a six-day track cycling race, and was performed by Prince Claus on 15 January 1971. However, the first fair already took place before the official opening, because in September 1970 Ahoy was the location for the Femina fair.[8] The complex's striking design won various national and international awards. The design of the venue took inspiration from the water, with the building laid out like a ship.[citation needed]

Two further halls were added to the complex in 1980, however the rarely-used built-in cycling track was dismantled in 1988 following the cancellation of the race in order to increase the main arena's capacity for concerts. In 1998, the complex was expanded again to include a sixth event hall and a main reception hall (known as the plaza) designed by the architectural firm Benthem Crouwel. Offices, catering facilities as well as smaller conference and meeting rooms were built. The main entrance to the Sportpaleis was also redesigned and the concrete footbridge from the Zuidplein (which was connected to a shopping centre and metro station) demolished.[9] The bridge was partly removed, so that it now ended at a staircase that led to the square in front of the reception hall. The demolition of the last section started on 3 March 2017, after the bridge had become unsafe due to a truck colliding with one of the bridge's girders earlier that week. In 2005, a (now removable) cycling track was built in Ahoy for the revived Six Days of Rotterdam racing event.

2015 Women's European Volleyball Championship Final at Ahoy Arena

The main arena building was comprehensively modernised from October 2009 until the end of 2010 and reopened on 21 January 2011. The overall capacity was increased by 5,000 to more than 15,000 with a new grandstand and extra seats installed.[10] In addition to the various interior work, Dutch lighting company Signify installed a new custom-made 1,000 m2 LED screen wall on the facade of the arena.[11] Since April 2021, the complex has been equipped with 5,200 solar panels which supply large events with sustainable energy 195 days a year.[12]

In July 2018, construction work began on an extension to the Ahoy complex. Rotterdam Ahoy Convention Centre (RACC) and RTM Stage, designed by Kraaijvanger Architects [nl], opened at the end of 2020 and is directly connected to the Ahoy Plaza. The new premises, featuring a dual-purpose 7,000-capacity concert hall and 2,750-seat auditorium/theatre (expandable to 4,000), adds an additional 35,000 square metres of floor space. On the 2nd and 3rd floors there are 35 break out rooms, varying in capacity from 50 to 1,000, that can be used separately or combined and a 2,300 m2 Expo Foyer which can be used for gala dinners, expos and receptions.[13]

The artists' entrance of the main arena was renamed "Door Duncan" in 2020, in honor of Duncan Laurence (who was born in nearby Spijkenisse) who brought the Netherlands its first victory in the Eurovision Song Contest since 1975.[14]



It has hosted sports competitions such as the Rotterdam Open and Six Days of Rotterdam every year and is one of the venues for Premier League Darts since 2016. Other international events held in the arena include:

It was a venue for the European finals of Superstars, the televised all-around sports competition from 1975 to 1977 and again in 1979.

Music television[edit]

The 1997 and 2016 MTV Europe Music Awards and the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2007 were also held in the Ahoy Arena.[15][16] Rotterdam Ahoy was also planned to be the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 host venue. It would have been the second venue to host both the junior and adult editions of the contest, after the Palace of Sports, Kyiv in Ukraine.[17] On 18 March 2020, the EBU announced the cancellation of the contest due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the Dutch government requested that the arena would be utilised as a field hospital.[18][19] During the broadcast of Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light on 16 May 2020, it was announced that Rotterdam Ahoy would host the Eurovision Song Contest 2021.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Veelgestelde vragen - Rotterdam Ahoy" [Frequently asked questions - Rotterdam Ahoy]. (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 6 May 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  2. ^ "Gideon Karting: WORKS 2020". Ahoy (in Dutch). 18 December 2020. Archived from the original on 27 January 2021. (...) in de Ahoy Arena, ook wel bekend als het sportpaleis van Rotterdam Ahoy. [(...) in the Ahoy Arena, also known as the sport palace of Rotterdam Ahoy.]
  3. ^ Bird, Lisa (30 August 2019). "Rotterdam 2020: Get to know the Ahoy Arena". ESCXTRA. Archived from the original on 29 September 2019.
  4. ^ "Historie Ahoy' Rotterdam" (PDF) (in Dutch). Ahoy. Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 October 2012.
  5. ^ "History: The North Sea Flood 1953 and the response by the TNO Physics Laboratory staff – Museum Waalsdorp". Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Rescue missions and emergency assistance". Zeeuws Archief. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  7. ^ "Ahoy Arena". STEAD. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  8. ^ "Dwars door 50 jaar historie! - Rotterdam Ahoy". (in Dutch). Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Benthem Crouwel - Ahoy". Benthem Crouwel. Archived from the original on 26 October 2020.
  10. ^ "40-jarig Ahoy niet bezorgd over concurrentie Ziggo Dome - rotterdam". 3voor12 (in Dutch). 20 January 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  11. ^ "Livingprojects - Façade Rotterdam Ahoy". Livingprojects. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  12. ^ "Roof of Rotterdam Ahoy is source of sustainable energy". Eneco. 22 April 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  13. ^ "Rotterdam Ahoy Convention Centre (RACC)". Kraaijvanger (in Dutch). Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  14. ^ "🇳🇱 Rotterdam Ahoy renames a part of the arena in honour of Duncan Laurence". 28 January 2020.
  15. ^ "MTV Europe Music Awards". Songkick. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  16. ^ "Junior Eurovision Song Contest (2007)". IMDb. Archived from the original on 10 February 2017.
  17. ^ Van Lith, Nick (30 August 2019). "Rotterdam to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2020!". ESCXTRA. Archived from the original on 29 October 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Official EBU statement & FAQ on Eurovision 2020 cancellation". 18 March 2020. Archived from the original on 18 March 2020.
  19. ^ Meijer, Bart; Jones, Gareth; Heavens, Andrew (30 March 2020). "Rotterdam concert hall to admit coronavirus patients instead of Eurovision fans". Reuters. Archived from the original on 30 March 2020.
  20. ^ Tarbuck, Sean (16 May 2020). "Rotterdam will host Eurovision Song Contest 2021!". ESC United. Archived from the original on 20 May 2020.

External links[edit]

Media related to Ahoy Rotterdam at Wikimedia Commons

Events and tenants
Preceded by European Indoor Championships in Athletics

Succeeded by
Preceded by
FIFA Futsal World Championship
Final Venue

Succeeded by
Preceded by Junior Eurovision Song Contest

Succeeded by
Preceded by Eurovision Song Contest

2020 (cancelled)
Succeeded by