World class multi-purpose venue

Built in the seventies as an indoor cycling arena, it grew into a popular concert and event venue that after 40 years reached its growth limit.

We were tasked to redevelop the Ahoy Arena into a state-of-the-art multi-purpose venue. With a deep-dive into their ambitions and brand strategy, we realized a building that fits like a tailored suit. A place for 16.500 visitors, able to compete both in The Netherlands and Europe.

The Ahoy buildings are owned by the city of Rotterdam. It is of shared interest for both the city and Ahoy that their market position remains intact. For that reason, the city decided to invest in the building. Their long term objective was the economic spin-off that events in Ahoy have for the economy of Rotterdam.


  • Developer on behalf of owner (delegated client)
  • Analyzing and involving end-user
  • Program of Requirements
  • Managing design and building process
  • Aftercare after delivery
In the 1970s, the Sportpaleis Ahoy was built as a covered velodrome and event hall. Over time the permanent cycling track disappeared and the hall became the largest pop stage in the Netherlands.

The roof is coming off

At the moment we got involved in the project, there was only a global Program of Requirements. We analyzed the plan and asked how it matched the exploitation plans. This enabled us to work towards a much more detailed plan for Ahoy to maximize her exploitation of the building.

One of the issues we brought up was building new grandstands on both short sides of the Arena. During concerts, one of the short sides is never used. The same goes for most sporting events.

In consultation, we agreed to build only one new short side attached to the new grandstand. The budget that was reserved for the other short side was poured into things that would render more money in the exploitation.

Next to that, we steered Ahoy towards the decision to renew the roof. A new roof means way bigger payloads can be hung, and a much higher clear ceiling height. This operation was not included in the original scope of the project.

In 2019, the abundance of clear ceiling height and the huge load capacity of the roof proved to be decisive in landing the Eurovision Songfestival in Ahoy. A prestigious event with enormous commercial value for Ahoy and vast (economic) spin-off for the city of Rotterdam.

Pro in process

Opened due to renovation

The biggest challenge was to combine the actual building process with the ongoing exploitation of the Arena by Ahoy.

The requirements for the continued operation made it difficult to tender the project. The accumulation of risks took away the attractiveness of the job for contractors. But, very detailed preparation of the execution phase and integral cooperation between client, user and design made the public tender quick and smooth.

In the end, it took 1,5 years of building, of which the Ahoy Arena only had to close for 0,5 years. In the middle of this closure, the Arena opened just for one weekend, to host the North Sea Jazz Festival (25,000 visitors per night). In that same period, the Tour de France started at Ahoy. It was a unique combination of events that were not allowed to be hindered by the building process.

Rotterdam Ahoy is the most suitable location for this state of the art TV show with over 180 million viewers.
Sietze Bakker

Main producer Eurovision Song Contest 2021

Open on time and within budget

During the rest of the construction period in which Ahoy was open, many more events were also organized. There were a bunch of big events, like concerts, world championships gymnastics and judo, the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament and Vrienden van Amstel Live. During practically the whole period, there was event construction and deconstruction on the building site.

The project had a very tight financial and planning framework. In the end, the new Ahoy Arena opened on the date we announced 2 years prior. All within the budget of the city of Rotterdam and with a very satisfied Ahoy.


  • Duration of renovation: 1,5 year
  • Total project duration: 5 year
  • Visitor capacity: 16.500
  • Investment sum: € 57M
  • Closed as little as possible during renovation

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