Crucible snooker: Talks continue as Sheffield fights to keep the World Snooker Championship

Credit: Getty Images/George WoodCredit: Getty Images/George Wood
Credit: Getty Images/George Wood | Getty Images/George Wood
New venues opening in Sheffield could help it to retain the World Snooker Championship, it is hoped.

Sheffield has hosted the sport’s blue-riband event since 1977 but there are fears it could leave the city once the current deal expires in 2027.

World Snooker Tour bosses have said they want to stay in Sheffield but feel a larger arena than the 980-capacity Crucible Theatre is needed to stage the event.

Some players, including Ronnie O’Sullivan, have called for the event to leave Sheffield, though others want it to remain at the Crucible, saying it would be impossible to replicate the atmosphere elsewhere.

One option for snooker fans staying in the city next year will be the new four-star Radisson Blu hotel, which has just opened on Pinstone Street.

It’s one of the final elements of the £470 million Heart of the City II regeneration project to be completed, following the opening in May of the Cambridge Street Collective food hall.

Leah’s Yard, a collection of historic former workshops housing shops, galleries, a cafe and other independent makers and creators, is due to open later this summer, marking the completion of the huge project.

At the opening of the Radisson Blu hotel, The Star asked two of the leading figures behind the city centre redevelopment how important it is for Sheffield to keep the World Snooker Championship.

They suggested that the opening of new venues like the hotel and the food hall might help convince snooker’s chiefs to keep the sport’s biggest event in Sheffield.

‘Sheffield is a good place to be’

Andrew Davison, Heart of the City project director for Queensberry, Sheffield City Council’s development partner, said: “Sheffield is snooker but unfortunately with every sport or big event change has to come.

“Will it affect the hotel? No, because it wasn’t built on the basis it has to be for the snooker. Sheffield has many, many different events.

“What it might do (the new hotel opening) is to make people look at the investment that’s gone into Sheffield and hopefully make the powers that be in snooker realise Sheffield is a good place to be and can be a better city.

“It would be a shame to lose the World Snooker Championship but I don’t think it’s the end of the world.”

‘Ongoing discussions’

Sean McClean, the council’s director of regeneration and development, said: “When you’ve had big events and sporting occasions in Sheffield in the past there’s always been a shortage of good quality accommodation in the city centre.

“I think having a high quality city centre is important not just for the snooker but for everybody. It’s about having a vibrant city centre for the residents, visitors, retailers and other businesses.

“The snooker is part of that, but that’s only two weeks of the year.”

The council said in a statement: “Sheffield City Council and World Snooker Tour are longstanding partners. We are in regular dialogue about the World Snooker Championship, beyond 2027.

“As this is a commercial arrangement, neither party are able to comment further on ongoing working discussions.”

While time is running out to build a new venue to host the snooker, the 12,500-capacity Utilita Arena Sheffield has been suggested as a ready made and much larger alternative to the Crucible within the city.

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