Wimbledon-style extension plan could save Crucible snooker’s future

“As snooker grows, so does Sheffield – the city center is undergoing a massive £470 million transformation, with a new world-class hotel, more restaurants, cafes and entertainment venues. Snooker fans have seen for decades that Sheffield knows how to put on a show and there is more to come.

“In terms of snooker, we have a contract until 2027 which we are delivering and our priority is to make sure everyone has the best possible experience here in Sheffield, whether they are players, visitors or local residents. We are in regular contact with the World Snooker Tour and meet with them before, during and after each tournament – ​​we will continue to have conversations with them about a way forward that works for us all.”

The board declined to comment on whether it would be prepared to explore the feasibility of expanding the Crucible, citing commercial confidentiality.

Hearn, meanwhile, played down suggestions the World Championship could move to the home of the city’s basketball and netball teams, which are set to host qualifying events for the Scottish Snooker Open and German Masters in the autumn.

“Our goal is to eventually move to a stadium designed to retain the feeling and imagery of the Crucible in a larger facility,” Hearn said.

“It’s not just the number of seats, because they can get 3,000 seats in the back garden. But I wouldn’t suggest holding the World Snooker Championship there.

“Leaving the Crucible will be such a horrible experience because we love it. But honestly, if you walk around backstage at the Crucible, it’s not great. The atmosphere in the arena, however, is world class. So we need a purpose-built facility that captures as much of the atmosphere of The Crucible as possible, but simply with three times the number of seats.

“For them to suggest that we could take the World Championship out of the Crucible to move into a leisure center just to have the ability to raise money is actually quite insulting.”

Saudi representatives for GEA and the O2 Academy’s owners, Academy Music Group, did not respond to requests for comment.

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