Improving the show II

As promised yesterday, today I look at what I think could be done to improve the overall experience of snooker fans attending World Snooker’s biggest tournaments…

While what goes on during the play is obviously paramount in any sport, for spectators I also feel that the venue and the experience as a whole are equally as important. Indeed with the excellent quality of the TV coverage these days, it is perhaps more so in order to entice the public to part with their cash and come along to the events.

As a fan who is based in the north of England, the vast majority of my live snooker experiences have been at the Crucible Theatre and to an extent I feel that this is an exception to many of the other events on the snooker calendar because there the experience genuinely is special. Reasons for this include the sense of occasion at the game’s biggest tournament and crucially the history that seeps out of every twinkle light at snooker’s longest-serving venue.

When I have visited other tournaments such as the UK Championship however, the atmosphere is not the same and ultimately I feel that there is not nearly enough for snooker fans to do when not in there watching the snooker. Sure there might be a ‘CueZone’ and a table on which spectators can challenge a professional and the usual cabinet with the assorted trophies inside, but it all feels a little tired and just does not go far enough. There is of course the usual merchandise stand, but you can read what I think about the goods on offer here.

Simply put, at many of the major snooker tournament you arrive, watch the snooker and go home.

While for me this is not such a big problem, a sport hoping to attract new fans and in particular a younger audience cannot afford to take this attitude. Also when you see how fun some of the invitational tournaments are, notably the Paul Hunter Classic over in Furth, it makes me realise that more could be done.

So what could be done to improve things?

Perhaps one idea would be to introduce regular autograph and photo sessions with players past and present at the venues. Similarly they could introduce daily Q&A sessions with notable snooker personalities as both ideas would surely help increase the level of interaction between the fans and the players. I do realise that both of these have taken place in the past, but from my experience they have been neither regular enough or sufficiently advertised.

Contrast this to the experience I had a couple of years ago when I visited Brands Hatch to watch the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (or DTM for short). There every driver competing that weekend would take part in regular, advertised, autograph sessions on each of the day of the three-day event and would also answer questions from the crowds of fans around them. If snooker could follow suit then it would be a step in the right direction.

Another change could be to better exploit the time in the arena before the players are introduced, as well as the time at the mid-session intervals and after the matches as mentioned the other day. At half-time in football for example they often have cheerleaders, prize draws, charity events and a whole host of other activities to compliment the actual match.

Now in snooker while it might be a touch risky to allow just anyone to use the match table during the mid-session interval, I would expect that something more could be done to entertain those fans who do not choose to leave the arena. Even something as simple as playing music, indeed I remember during 2005 when I first went to watch snooker at the Crucible Theatre, the old Pot Black theme would be played at times and I have certainly missed that since it was stopped the following year.

A further improvement that I would like to see is of course to the merchandise, which pales in comparison to that at other sporting events I have been to such as tennis, football and motor racing. As mentioned earlier in the post however, I think that I have covered that particular subject once or twice before!

So over to you. Do you think that more could be done to improve the overall snooker experience or are you happy with how the biggest ranking events are staged at the moment. If not I would be interested to hear how you would go about it and ultimately, how you would bring the players closer to the fans…