Rieu's Plans For Maastricht Dome Come When Needed For The City
Maastricht Dichtbij July 9, 2013: MAASTRICHT - Again, there seems to be serious plans for an André Rieu-theatre in Maastricht. According to the Stan Huygens Journal in De Telegraaf (The Telegraph)the Maastricht violinist and conductor wants, along with theater tycoon Joop van den Ende and Rabobank, to construct a concert hall with approximately 5,000 seats in the capital of Limburg. In a playful reference to the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, the famous Stehgeiger (stand-up violinst )and Maastricht export product number one, said a Maastricht Dome should offer a practical solution to the fact that he is getting older and that to travel the world would someday become too much for him.
That there is sufficient interest from abroad is clear when one takes a look at the Market square in Maastricht where, down the road, Rieu is performing with his orchestra on the Vrijthof. The previous evening the town hall had been almost totally obscured by a hundred coaches which had been allowed to park temporarily on the Market square. 48 of the luxury buses came from an entrepreneur from Newmarket in England: he had chosen this venue specifically because his customers, mostly elderly people, would in Maastricht have the unique opportunity to see their idol perform without having to walk far.
In order to make a mega venue such as this – which can accommodate huge audiences from across the world – economically viable, Rieu concluded a deal with Joop van den Ende. This entails that Van den Ende would occupy the venue for 200 days annually, while Rieu would take care of the remainder.
These plans are not new. Even in the heyday of Mayor Gerd Leers the newspapers were full of reports of a possible transition of Maastricht (at that time “the best city in the Netherlands”) to Las Vegas on the Maas. Leers (who, at that time bore the unofficial title of “best mayor in the country”) invited Joop van den Ende to have a look at the little city on the Maas, so conveniently located in the heart of the Euro region. The ambitious plans for the theatre included the construction of a large casino, which would provide the city with at least 4,000 new jobs.
Leers was already at that stage certain of the location of such a mega theatre; it had to be in the center of the city on the site occupied by the Landbouwbelang building (a centre for the promotion of local culture). In order to accommodate the needs of well-heeled guests from around the world, negotiations took place with the Hilton hotel chain which recognized the economic viability of a five-star establishment within a stone’s throw of the new theatre.
Remarkably, during the same period, the Maastricht businessman, Benoit Wesly, caused a stir in the city about something similar. The entrepreneur, who was once a close friend of Van den Ende, but fell out with him after disagreements regarding the establishment of the Circus Theatre in Scheveningen, promptly tabled detailed plans for the construction of a theatre and health centre on the site of the Guesselt Park. He had contracted the Maastricht architect, Arn Meijs, who also designed the Circus Theatre in Scheveningen, the Entre Deux shopping centre and theatres in Berlin, Oberhausen, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Paris.
Wesly put Leers and his supporters who did not support the development in the Geusselt area, under considerable pressure: he announced in his own Derlon Hotel that he would only abandon his idea if handsome compensation was forthcoming.
After two years of political wrangling and uncertainty about the course of negotiations with Van den Ende - who at that time was embroiled in an instance of real estate fraud within his own company – the ambitious plans were shelved. Nothing further was heard about Wesly’s plans either.
Meanwhile, Leers, who insisted that there had indeed been negotiations in this regard, was ousted from his position after upheaval about the acquisition of a holiday villa on the Bulgarian coast.
But now the old plans have resurfaced again – and at a very opportune time. Maastricht will hear later this year whether or not it will be the European Capital of Culture in 2018. A nice, big, privately funded theatre, which can also accommodate the better amateur work, will be like the answer to a prayer for the city.
Article Sent by Ineke and Translated by Entia