Demolish Crucible and build 3,000-seat venue to keep World Snooker Championship in Sheffield, says Barry Hearn

Barry Hearn wants to knock down The Crucible and build a 3,000-seat venue to keep the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield for another 30 years.

By Robert Cumber
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 2:56 pm

The World Snooker Tour president announced the plans in a podcast released today, Monday, May 9, describing how he hoped the new building would be his ‘greatest legacy’ to the sport.

Debate raged during the tournament, which ended last Monday with Ronnie O’Sullivan claiming a record-equalling seventh title, about whether The Crucible was still fit to host the game’s premier event or if a new venue was needed.

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Architect James Burland's plans for a 3,000-seat 'Billiardrome' arena in Sheffield to host World Snooker Championship (pic: Burland Aura Planning 2022)

The current deal for Sheffield to host the tournament runs until 2027, and some players have criticised the 980-capacity theatre, saying it is too small and lacks the atmosphere of other venues like London’s Alexandra Palace, where the Masters is staged.

The Crucible ‘needs to be bigger’ to keep the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield

Speaking to sports journalist Michael McMullan on the latest World Snooker Tour podcast, published this afternoon, Mr Hearn said: “I want to stay here forever, not just five years, forever.

“But I’ve got to use my common sense. The place isn’t perfect. It needs a lot of work done on it. It needs to be bigger, etc, etc.

World Snooker Tour president Barry Hearn says knocking down the existing Crucible in Sheffield and replacing it with a new 3,000-seat Crucible would be his 'greatest legacy' to the sport (pic: Richard Sellers/PA Wire)

“I will be having a meeting today while I’m here with Sheffield Council and see how I can help potentially to knock this building down and on the same site let’s build something that’s 3,000-seater, state-of-the-art and we will sign a contract for another 30 years.

“It may need central government funding but, you know what, in life you only get out what you put in….

“The real world’s about spending money. It’s not going to cost a fortune in the bigger picture to establish something that the people of Sheffield, the people of Yorkshire and the people of England can be proud of, and I think that’s the solution.”

Players outside The Crucible in Sheffield ahead of this year's World Snooker Championship. World Snooker Tour president Barry Hearn wants to knock down the exisiting building and replace it with a new 3,000-seat venue to keep the tournament in the city for another year (pic: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire)

World Snooker Championship could take place outside Sheffield while new Crucible is being built

Mr Hearn said the new building would not ‘happen overnight’ and if the World Snooker Championship had to be staged outside Sheffield temporarily while the new venue is constructed, Alexandra Palace could host it for a couple of years.

Speaking of his affection for The Crucible and for Sheffield, he continued: “I love this place. I love the atmosphere it creates, I love the fact it’s the theatre of dreams and where my life started.

“This would be my greatest legacy for the sport of snooker to see a new Crucible built on the site of the old Crucible, and I’m going to do everything in my power to convince the powers that be that that would be value for money.”

The podcast was published today but recorded last Monday, meaning the meeting Mr Hearn referred to has already taken place.

The Star recently reported how plans for a 3,000-seat purpose built ‘Billiardrome’ venue remained on the table some 20 years after they were first drawn up by architect James Burland, the man behind the City of Manchester Stadium.

Mr Burland told how he was in talks with Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, who he said was interested in the proposed stadium.

The Star has contacted Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Theatres about Mr Hearn’s latest comments.