Final preparations being made at Crucible Theatre as Sheffield gets ready for World Snooker Championship

‘We could sell it out three times over if we moved it but it’s not just about that – this is the Crucible’.

Tuesday, 23rd April 2019, 11:55 am

Those were the words of Ivan Hirschowitz, World Snooker press officer, as he leads us on a behind the scenes of the city’s famous venue less than 48 hours before World Championship gets underway.

The Crucible Theatre is a hub of activity as workers completely transform it for the sport’s flagship event.

World Snooker branding is in place throughout the city centre. Picture: Chris Etchells

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World Snooker branding already masks the building from the outside and a huge screen has been set up in Tudor Square, where fans will be able to soak up the sunshine and watch the action.

The Peace Gardens have also been transformed with pictures of the sports top players – including Ronnie O’Sullivan, donning the Surrey Street entrance.

But it is inside the theatre itself where you can almost feel the excitement building as specialist engineers install the two tables.

Media from across the world will be based in Sheffield for the tournament. Picture: Chris Etchells

Testing is carried out using specialist cue balls to ensure the installation is correct and the tables are covered with moisture absorbing cloth to ensure humidity in the theatre doesn’t affect the players.

Around the tables are drills, ladders and workmen busy preparing for the tournament, which gets underway on Saturday and runs until Monday, May 7.

Commentary booths are in place for both BBC Sport and Eurosport and reporters have already picked their spot in the press room.

The players' entrance. Picture: Chris Etchells

Staff are also busy filling the chillers in the Captain’s Lounge, where players can relax in between games and watch their competitors in action.

Practice tables are already installed, providing players with the chance to train before taking to the main arena.

The hundreds of staff seem to have thought of everything – backstage the corridors are lined with pictures of the former winners and an honours board listing the world champions.

A question mark is written next to 2019 and a picture of last year’s winner Mark Williams is on the wall behind the walkway players take to the baize.

Setting one of the table ups. Picture: Chris Etchells

As we walk around, the sound of drills and saws can be heard echoing around the venue – labelled the ‘Home of Snooker’.

But it will be the silence and tension inside the theatre which creates the real magic once play gets underway.

Fans in the first few rows will feel like they are almost on the baize themselves – and that is something which can’t be replicated in any other venue.

And if the hub of activity before the tournament is anything to go by, we are in for another special year in Sheffield – the home of snooker.

One of the players' dressing rooms. Picture: Chris Etchells
A moisture-absorbing cloth is laid over the table. Picture: Chris Etchells
Fans can watch history be made on a huge screen in Tudor Square. Picture: Chris Etchells
One of two commentary boxes at the Crucible. Picture: Chris Etchells.
The TV studio in the Winter Garden. Picture: Chris Etchells
Preperations are well underway at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield ready for the start of the Snooker World Championships. Picture: Chris Etchells
Tudor Square is transformed. Picture: Chris Etchells