World Championship to remain at the Crucible until at least 2015

Much to the relief of many it was confirmed last year that the World Championship will remain at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield until at least 2014 but today came the news that this deal has been extended by a further year as Sheffield strengthens its claim further to be the number one city for snooker…

Barry Hearn is reported on Sporting Life as saying:

“This is the home of snooker. While I have a breath in my body this event stays at the Crucible because this is where it’s meant to be.

“This is no longer the city of steel, this is the city of snooker and we would not mess with the crown jewels.

“One hopes and prays we are successful enough to justify an extension of our invitation to Sheffield.”

“We’ve seen some things here this week that have relit the furnace inside me that says this game is going to be massive – not small, medium or average, but massive,”

“We are going to make a monumental effort to make sure every snooker player in the world knows where the centre of snooker is. The centre is Sheffield,”

“The whole point is you’d miss the whole flavour of the event. We don’t need to have an extra 500, 1,000 or 10,000 spectators,”

“This has got a reputation as a pristine event in excellent surroundings.”

I am sure that most who have watched snooker at the Crucible will agree that there is no other venue quite like it and as a regular there for the past few years I am thrilled to see the commitment to the venue as shown by this announcement.

As Barry says, the easy option would be to move into a bigger arena but what would be gained with spectators would be lost in terms of not only history but the unique atmosphere that is present at the Crucible. It is an oft-used cliche to say that watching snooker at the venue is like watching it in your living room but given how close spectators are to the action it is absolutely true. Unlike virtually any other venue currently in the sport too it offers something unique and despite the lack of size at the two table stage, feels custom-made for snooker, particularly with this year’s upgrades.

Another piece of good news coming from the announcement is that the qualifiers for next season’s ranking events will also be staged at Sheffield, at the World Snooker Academy at the English Institute for Sport. While the venue does not have the character of the Crucible, having been there during the past couple of years for the UK and World Championship qualifiers I have seen that it is a top quality facility and importantly for the players, a more easily accessible venue than the much maligned Prestatyn.

It will be interesting to see how the Academy is revamped for the qualifiers as while the World Championship matches during the last couple of years have been staged in the badminton courts, I am would not expect this to be a feasible arrangement during the course of a season. Will a spectator area be introduced at the Academy and will TV cameras be installed?

Time will tell, but one thing is for sure, Sheffield is definitely the place to be for snooker…