MTV Europe Music Awards: Why Belfast was chosen for 2011 event
'There's something very different, unique and special about Belfast. And the bid was one of the best I've ever seen'
The MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs) will be the biggest showbiz event Northern Ireland will ever have witnessed.
The eyes of the world will be upon Belfast later this year when the city plays host to the prestigious, star-studded bash.
Not only will the event, scheduled for November 6, bring some of the biggest names in music to our doorstep, boosting the local economy by an estimated £10m, but the awards ceremony itself will be broadcast from the Odyssey Arena, beaming live into millions of homes in up to 160 countries across the globe.
Without doubt the MTV EMAs will be the biggest production ever to be staged in Northern Ireland and will be a unique opportunity to showcase Belfast and beyond on an international stage.
Belfast has always boasted a rich musical heritage, from Stiff Little Fingers to Snow Patrol, Ruby Murray to Van Morrison, but in recent years the city's music scene has flourished, with bands like General Fiasco and Two Door Cinema Club helping to shine a spotlight on the city.
It's this thriving scene — combined with renewed energy and enthusiasm, the proper infrastructure and hard work on the part of Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board — that secured the staging of the EMAs for Belfast.
According to Richard Godfrey, the executive producer of the show, the time is now right for Belfast to host such a massive event.
Richard revealed that MTV scouts had looked at Belfast twice before — shortly after the opening of the Odyssey Arena and again, a few years later — but the infrastructure had still needed a few tweaks.
“It's a case of third time lucky for Belfast,” he said.
“When we came over on the other two occasions, we just felt the timing wasn't right, but when we came back last year, we realised Belfast was a serious contender.
“The changes in the city are phenomenal. Artists tell us they love playing here, they love staying here. The audiences are brilliant and the hotels are fantastic.
“There's something very different, unique and special about Belfast. And the bid was one of the best I've ever seen,” he said.
Richard said it was too early to reveal the line-up for the event, but the EMAs are renowned for attracting the biggest names in the industry — artists like Lady GaGa, Madonna, Beyoncé, Muse, U2, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Katy Perry and Coldplay have all attended previous ceremonies.
David Lynn, executive vice- president and managing director of MTV UK and Ireland, promised Belfast would be no exception.
“It will be the same calibre of A-list stars coming to Belfast for the EMAs and, in addition, there will be a week of local events taking place around Belfast in the run-up.
“We are confident Belfast won't disappoint,” he added.
Belfast's Lord Mayor Pat Convery praised the team behind the bid and said it was only fitting the city should host the event as around 35% of its population is under the age of 25.
“The decision to host such a world-class event in our city is an endorsement of what we have been saying for some time now — Belfast is a happening place.”
To describe winning this bid as a major coup for Belfast is an understatement.
The repercussions will be felt across Northern Ireland, with a massive cash injection for the economy and a well-deserved place for the city on the world's music map.
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: “Hosting the MTV EMAs will surely elevate Northern Ireland's profile on the international stage.
“I hope those who come here for this spectacular event are inspired to explore more of what we have to offer.”
Barcelona, Rome, Berlin and Madrid have all been previous hosts. Now add Belfast to that illustrious roll-call.
As one poster commented on the Belfast Telegraph's website: “Alternative Ulster. Great news!”
Set up in 1994, last year's MTV awards were held in Madrid, with previous shows in Liverpool (2008), Edinburgh (2003) and London (1996). Lady Gaga was the big winner in 2010 with three awards for best pop act, best female and best song. MTV has also announced plans to host a series of local events around Belfast in the lead-up to the EMAs.