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Ahoy Rotterdam

Rotterdam, South Holland

Home of the Six Days of Rotterdam

3.9

N/A

Ahoy Rotterdam (map it)
Ahoy-weg 10
Rotterdam, South Holland 3084
The Netherlands


Six Days of Rotterdam website

Ahoy Rotterdam website

Year Opened: 1950

Capacity: 15,000

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Cycling Says Ahoy! to Rotterdam

Cycling in general has come under major scrutiny the past months. Confessions about the use of performance enhancing drugs in general, and EPO in particular, have killed a lot of the enthusiasm that surrounds this heroic type of sports. The sport might not be as big in the US on a competitive level, but in Europe, and especially France, Spain, Italy, and Belgium, cycling is amongst the top 3 sports in each country. Big events include the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and the Vuelta a España, each of these events have been around for almost a century.

The event I visited for SJ has its origin in both the UK and the US. The six days of cycling is, as its name already states, a six day event with several disciplines on an (indoor) cycling track. The first recorded six days event was in London in 1878, which was a time trial. The first ever official six days was held on December 4, 1899, in Madison Square Garden in New York. It became hugely popular and was nicknamed "Madison" after the venue in which it was held.

In the early decades of the 20th century, the event was brought across the pond to Germany (Berlin, 1909) and later on to Belgium, France, and the UK. In six days, two man teams battle each other for the win in several events. The event consists of several disciplines, with sprint, elimination races, chase, derny racing (motor driven), and a short time trial (amongst others) taking place. Riders take rest in between events, staying in small cabins and chatting, reading, or getting a massage while their mechanics prepare the bikes for the next race. The bikes have only one gear, so shifting is not possible during the race. Spectators are entertained by live music and are actively persuaded by both the stadium speaker, as well as the athletes, to get involved.

In the main chase-event (lasting for about 100 rounds, or sometimes a set time), both riders are on the track at the same time, taking turns to race, hand-slinging each other forward into action. The other cyclist will circle the track slowly, taking his rest, and accelerate down before getting "slung" back into the race. In the end, the team that completes the most laps wins the event.

The host of this event, Ahoy Rotterdam, is a multi-event venue, were sports events such as the ABN AMRO tennis tournament, Six Days of Cycling, European Gymnastics Championships, and Table Tennis championships, as well as concerts by such acts as Beyonce, and Julio Iglesias, have taken place. The origins of the venue date back to the 1950s, when an exhibition about Rotterdam required a large exhibition hall. The temporary venue was called Ahoy and it was the basis for the current venue.

The building of the current accommodation started back in 1968. When construction was finished in 1970, the 15,000 seats Ahoy sports arena had a built-in cycling track and 3 other exhibition halls. In 1988, a first renovation took place, which included the removal of the cycling track in order to keep up with market demands. Later, in 1997, an extra exhibition hall was added, also to keep up with demands. In 2009 and 2010, a modernisation took place to meet today’s standards. For the event, a temporary cycling track was put back into the arena.

3.9

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

In the venue, a large number of food stalls can be found in order to meet your food & beverage appetite. During the event, you could go for a quick Dutch snack, such as frikandel (€2.50), kroket (idem), some fries (€2.50) and other treats. There are several restaurants inside the building with reasonable and good food options. One is Restaurant Floyd, where you can dive into a 3-course meal for €34.50 and RIVers, serving sandwiches, soups, and other hot dishes. Prices range from €5 to €20.

In addition, they have ice cream parlours offering the best in town, Ben & Jerry's ice cream. For drink options, you could go for soft drinks such as Pepsi or iced tea, and a serving of beer or wine if you are up for a good night of drinking. Prices range from €2 to €4 a drink.

Atmosphere    5

During the event, the place gets lit up, music is pumping through the speakers, and two commentators talk you through every detail that's happening on the track. With lighting effects, the high speed of the event (60km/h on the track is not an exception), and the enthusiasm and determination from the athletes, makes it a really good sporting night out. Because of the nature of the event, the spectacle is chopped up in several disciplines, showcasing some of the best cycling track sprinters (this year - spring 2013 - Sir Chris Hoy was in the building, several times Olympic Champion, including a gold medal in the 2012 Olympic Games) in the world.

People are really there for a good night out, and the place gets sold out most of the days. Seating has the average spectators in the stands and the sponsors and other VIPs on the surface inside the racing track.

Neighborhood    2

The neighborhood is not something to talk highly about. It is the Rotterdam-Zuid area, which hasn't been in the news very positively lately. Most people just arrive at the venue, where everything is at hand, and leave the area directly afterwards. There is a large shopping mall next to the venue, along with some eateries, but not really something I would recommend.

Fans    4

Cycling fans in general are widely known for the knowledge of the sport. They are travellers, following the athletes all through Europe during Classic races in Belgium/France/Germany, Italy, Spain, or in The Netherlands. During the evening, enthusiasm goes up and down along with the nature of the event. If there's a 60-minute two team chase race, people tend to get low on energy, start wandering around checking for a new cycle, or competing in a few of the games. But when the sprint races are there, and when the time has come the winner can be decided, they get lively, chanting, and applauding the cyclists. It is a different look and feel if you're comparing to sports as baseball, football, soccer, or so. I saw one guy walking around in a self-knitted world championship jersey. Only at cycling....

Access    5

Access to the venue is easy. Public transit metro lines run to Zuidplein stations, which is only a minute walk from the venue. There's a large parking facility next to the stadium which almost never runs full, so there's plenty of parking space. It is well signed and easy to find.

Return on Investment    4

The ticket I bought was €32.50, which can be seen as expensive if you compare it to other sporting events I've visited. The spots we had were pretty good, right at the finish line. We had plain sight of everything, and the event was filled with high class athletes, so you did get some good ROI. Besides, it was the last competing night of one of the world's famous "derny drivers", Joop Zijlaard. He had been a catalyst for the event, an icon for the sport, and his retirement from the sport brought tears to many of the people in the stands.

Extras    3

As is normal for these events, they set-up some stands with games (such as "the longest (in time) sur place" and small competitions between two people on cycle simulators. They had some book and memorabilia shops, combined with some cycle and accessories stands. However, there's not really a museum or wall of fame you could look for at the venue.

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