Why France and Italy played in Rotterdam
While doing some research on Feyenoord’s home stadium De Kuip, I bumped into an old article from 1999 which discussed why De Kuip had just been awarded the Euro 2000 final in favour of the recently completed, more modern, and slightly bigger Amsterdam ArenA.
It had happened before that it wasn’t the country’s largest stadium that hosted the final of a World Cup or European Championships, think 1982 Bernabéu over Camp Nou or 1990 Olimpico over San Siro. But these were all cases of the capital hosting the final over a smaller, less prestigious, city. This must have been the first time that a less modern stadium, with a less famous club (Ajax vs Feyenoord), in a non-capital was able to host a prestigious tournament final.
Of course, De Kuip has a very rich history, it is one of the stadiums that hosted the most European cup finals, and the stadium is considered by the Dutch to be the most atmospheric of the two, more of a proper football stadium instead of a concert arena, but it still seems an odd decision.
The article in NRC Handelsblad lays down the reasons for this decision, and, of course, it all comes down to money. Rotterdam offered the Euro 2000 organisation an investment of €4 million in the tournament, whereas Amsterdam only matched that with €1 million. Euro 2000 worked with a very tight budget, with the national FA’s having to make up any negative differences, hence the quick choice for Rotterdam.
On top of this Rotterdam offered more flexibility (the Amerdam ArenA had more fixed contracts with investors, skybox holders and suppliers, and had outsourced parking arrangements), and had less competing sponsor billboards around the stadium, which all weighted in favour of De Kuip.
That said, it seems like a typical Dutch decision to choose money over the prestige of a final in the capital. Would France choose Lyon over Paris, or England Manchester over London if these cities offered a larger investment? I personally can’t imagine this.