Deal to keep world snooker finals in Sheffield is ‘great for city’, say residents

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It could be worth £50m to the city, and the deal to keep the world’s biggest snooker tournament in Sheffield until 2027 was greeted with excitement outside the Crucible.

While workmen took down the World Championship hoardings outside the city centre theatre today (Tuesday, May 3), snooker fans and non-fans agreed it was important for the Sheffield to keep the competition.

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Snooker to stay in Sheffield until at least 2027

Jack Laver, 72, from the S2 area, said the tournament was one of the highlights of the year.

“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “It’s a great thing for Sheffield and for the city centre businesses.

“It gives everyone a lift. You see the players knocking about - I saw John Parrott the other day.

“Personally, I love it, right from the start. And the atmosphere is great. Everyone you talk to says so.”

Jack had an extra reason to celebrate, having won £100 with a bet on new world champion Mark Selby.

Scott Nuttall, 37, from Grimesthorpe, had not seen much of this year’s tournament, but said: “I think anything that benefits Sheffield is a fantastic thing.

“I’m not the biggest snooker fan but I think it’s good for city businesses and the city in general. Sheffield comes alive when the Crucible hosts the snooker.”

Tickets for next year’s competition, the 40th in Sheffield, went on sale on Monday, and there were already people queuing at the Crucible box office. But the appeal of the tournament goes far beyond South Yorkshire.

Patrick Hussey, 71, from Fulwood, said: “It’s good that with snooker becoming internationalised and with the Chinese doing well that they still want to hold it in Sheffield, where it’s traditional.

“It’s built up sort of an aura, like Wembley. That’s where you have the football, and Sheffield is where you have snooker.”

Mr Hussey said it was important for Sheffield to keep attracting international events.

“The snooker is still going on in Sheffield and we have done well out of it, in a way.”

Marion Kenney, 61, from Gleadless, didn’t watch much of the tournament, but said it was ‘brilliant’ that it brought so much money into the city. The new deal keeping the World Championship in Sheffield could be worth up to £50m to the economy.

“I think we need more of these big events,” she said. “I don’t tend to come into the city centre much but I can see why people enjoy the buzz.

“I did enjoy the classical music weekend last October.

“It’s about having events that appeal to a range of people.”

Chris Edwards, 27, from the S2 area, works near the Crucible and has seen plenty of the atmosphere generated by the snooker.

“There’s a good buzz,” he said.

“It puts Sheffield on the map a bit. Everything else seems to be in London.

“When you are driving past the building you think ‘my God, that’s what’s on BBC Two’ - it’s being beamed all over the world and it’s just an ordinary thing you see every day.

“It’s nice that it’s part of the city.”

And Sheffield Hallam University student Tom Cheung, 20, who lives in Sharrow, said he didn’t know the Crucible hosted the tournament before he moved from his home in Northampton.

“This year I have been watching it,” he said. “It takes your interest because it’s so close to university.

“Every time I walk through I always see a bit of commotion. It definitely enhances the appeal of Sheffield.

“I saw a statistic that 27 per cent of all TVs in China were broadcasting it. It’s great for Sheffield’s global appeal.”

The deal to keep the World Championships at the Crucible for another 10 years was announced just before the final session of this year’s tournament. Sheffield fought off competition from other major cities around the world to keep the tournament in South Yorkshire.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said despite the limited capacity of the Crucible, which holds fewer than 1,000 spectators for each session, there was no choice but to keep the tournament at the theatre which has been its spiritual home since 1977.

He said it was easy to do a deal with Sheffield Council to ensure the tournament would stay in Sheffield until at least 2027 - the year that will mark the 50th anniversary of the event being held at the Crucible.

Mr Hearn said: “The council were very supportive from day one. It was just a case of finding a reasonable common ground with the financials and investment.

“The winner is Sheffield rather than the council or Barry Hearn, because the exposure that Sheffield gets - the international investment coming into the city - it’s a very good deal for Sheffield.”

Mr Hearn said the tournament would not be moving away from the Crucible despite its limited capacity.

He said: “Sheffield is synonymous with the Crucible. That’s not to say if they want to knock it down and build us a bigger venue, I wouldn’t be in favour because I have had murders today with the amount of people wanting tickets.

The Crucible is where we come from, that’s our history.

“The atmosphere here is what we call British eccentricity. There is no other venue in the world that has a semi-final that lasts three days.

“There’s no other event in the world, of this stature, that has 500 million people watching that takes place in a 900-seater auditorium.”

Mr Hearn said he was looking forward to seeing the television audience figures for the latest tournament - particularly after Ding Junhui became the first Asian player to reach the final.

He said: “I am looking forward to the numbers coming in from China. I will not get carried away with it, just do a lap of honour naked around the Crucible.”