Sheffield city centre businesses enjoy boost from World Snooker Championships

Sheffield has certainly gone 'snooker-loopy nuts' with the World Championships once again taking place at the Crucible Theatre - and city centre businesses are certainly reaping the rewards.

Wednesday, 25th April 2018, 2:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th April 2018, 4:21 pm
The Crucible Theatre is currently hosting the World Snooker Championships. Picture: Sam Cooper/The Star.

The game's top 32 players battle it out in the tournament, accompanied by TV, media and fans from across the globe - all of whom set up base in Sheffield for the 17 days it runs for.

Sheffield City Council estimate the tournament, which has been staged at the 980-seat Crucible Theatre since 1977, boosts Sheffield's economy by almost £3 million per year.

The Peace Gardens is home to the Cue Zone. Picture: Sam Cooper/ The Star.

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And with the championships just a few days old, cafes, restaurants and bars are visibly enjoying the benefits.

Tim Nye has been running Marmaduke's Deli, on Norfolk Row, for the last six years and said the event always led to a boost in takings.

"The snooker is great for Sheffield, first and foremost because it puts us on the world stage, not just the UK stage," he says as we struggle to find a table to sit at in the deli.

"We get people coming here that wouldn't ever come to Sheffield or our cafe. We get a lot of the players and the media crews coming in and half of the people who come in to our deli at this time of year come for that reason - to see them.

The World Snooker Championships trophy. Picture: Sam Cooper/ The Star.

"Steve Davis comes in a lot and he was once in and was full of cold one day and was sat having a Full English breakfast. A family from Singapore came in and he was more than welcoming of a picture."

Tim said the snooker saw the cafe's biggest rise in takings, closely followed by Sheffield Doc/Fest.

"The snooker is really special, and really special for everyone in Sheffield, he says.

"We genuinely feel part of the snooker. If the players play well and we have fed them then we claim to be the reason why."

Tim Nye, of Marmadukes Deli. Picture: Sam Cooper/The Star.

Over in the Peace Gardens, the Cue Zone, which includes the BBC studio, always attracts the crowds.

Chris and Elaine Murphy had made the trip up from Bedford to catch a glimpse of the action. They were in the theatre to see John Higgins take on Thepchaiya Un-Nooh as well as Judd Trump's match with Chris Wakelin.

Elaine said: "I have not been before and I was really surprised by how close you are to the players. We were only sat four rows back for the Higgins game and you really are part of it.

"The atmosphere is fantastic around the theatre as well. The set-up in the Peace Gardens is fabulous and we've really enjoyed it."

The Peace Gardens is home to the Cue Zone. Picture: Sam Cooper/ The Star.

Over on Chapel Walk, fans make their way to the various city centre eateries for lunch and drinks.

But Adam Ward, who runs Feast sandwich bar with his brother Geoff, said the qualifying event for the World Championships moving to the English Institute of Sport from Ponds Forge had affected trade.

He said: "In general the impact year on year is less and less. We do see an upsurge in trade but previously the qualifiers were at Ponds Forge and now they've moved to the EIS, the focus tends to be more on the Peace Gardens.

"We do still get a lot of the referees coming in for their lunch and we do still trade up year-on-year but the impact used to be like 30 to 40 per cent, whereas this year it's around 10 per cent."

A noticeable difference at this year's event has been the increase in security around the venue - including the installation of concrete blocks off Arundel Gate and Surrey Street and a lack of litter bins in Tudor Square.

Organisers introduced the extra measures following the Manchester Arena bombing last May, in which 23 people were killed.

The World Snooker Championships trophy. Picture: Sam Cooper/ The Star.

While, the city centre undoubtedly enjoys a boost in terms of visitor numbers and trade - behind the scenes at the Crucible an army of staff and volunteers help to ensure the sport and Sheffield is shown in the best possible light to a global audience of around 500 million.

As much as the city is transformed, so too is the Crucible itself. It is covered in World Championship Snooker branding on the outside and the venue really lends itself to hosting the tournament.

Through the stage door, which is lined with keen fans wanting to catch a selfie with their heroes, there is a dedicated media centre, referee and player changing rooms as well as three practice tables.

Players can also take in the action in the Captain's Lounge, set up backstage at the Crucible. Barry Hawkins kept a close eye on proceedings while we were there.

The practice tables, which are kept in immaculate condition, offer players the chance to practice their cuing before taking to the auditorium.

The tournament office is a hive of activity as officials keep a tab on proceedings, as well a keeping a close eye on the coveted World Championship trophy.

The World Championships run at the Crucible until Monday, May 7.

Tim Nye, of Marmadukes Deli. Picture: Sam Cooper/The Star.