Northern Ireland

MTV boss reveals why Belfast was chosen for awards event

Richard Godfrey
Image caption Richard Godfrey said Belfast would be the smallest city to host the EMAs

The executive producer of the MTV European Music Awards has revealed the idea of Belfast hosting the event was first mooted ten years ago.

Richard Godfrey said he was invited over to the city by the then owners of the Odyssey Arena which will host Sunday's entertainment extravaganza.

Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Coldplay and Jessie J are among the artists lined up for the show at the complex on the banks of the River Lagan.

Snow Patrol and Jason Derulo will take the stage at Belfast City Hall while Red Hot Chilli Peppers will play the Ulster Hall.

In an exclusive interview with BBC Northern Ireland's Natasha Sayee, Mr Godfrey explained why the time was now right for the city, which is the smallest to host the awards ceremony.

"The city was fantastic in talking to us and putting a marvellous pitch together," he said.

"Although my job is to scout the cities that are interested and pull together all the salient facts, some of the decision makers are in New York.

"We all came over in early January and had a really good chance to get to know the city and enjoy some of the famous local hospitality.

Global audience

"That was what swung it really, combined with a world-class venue, great hotels, and the infrastructure that can support it.

"There is a good musical heritage as well, it is a proper music city."

Belfast City Council and the NI Tourist Board have contributed more than £1m towards the event which, the council has said, could generate more than £10m for Northern Ireland.

Mr Godfrey was keen to promote the benefits that the EMAs would bring.

He said that as well as the knock-on effect for local hotels and suppliers, Belfast would be showcased to a global audience.

"It is the biggest show of its type outside America and there are millions who will see it comes from Belfast," he added.

"It puts this city on the map for a different reason.

"This show is very expensive, the contribution that the council and local partners made is gratefully received and they were adamant that we do a free show for the people of the city.

"It is 20% more expensive than when it was in Dublin, because then a lot of the artists costs were taken care of by the labels.

"The return of the investment will hopefully be phenomenal and it will be independently audited afterwards, so in a couple of months time you can see whether that is true or not, but I have no doubt it will be seen as money well spent."

He said that ultimately it was up to the citizens of Belfast to get the most from the experience.

"We bring this circus to town and we provide a lot of opportunities for people to be part of the show, but the rest of it is really up to people here to make the best of it," he added.

BBC Newsline is running features on the MTV European Music Awards all this week.

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