Sheffield preparing to host World Snooker Championship that gives city ‘priceless’ exposure

Hosting the World Snooker Championship once again this year could boost Sheffield’s economy by around £3 million – but also lead to ‘priceless exposure’ for the city.

Preparations are continuing for the tournament which will see the world’s top 32 players battle it out at the Crucible Theatre from April 20 to May 6.

The World Snooker Championship has been held at the Crucible, in Sheffield since 1977.

The World Snooker Championship has been held at the Crucible, in Sheffield since 1977.

Thousands of fans and media from across the world will set up base in Sheffield the 17 days it runs for and only a limited number of tickets are still available.

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Gary Clifton, Sheffield Council’s major events manager, said: “Preparations are all going well from our point view and it’s going to be great to welcome the event back to the city again.

“In my opinion, there aren’t many sporting events of this size that happen on an annual basis that generate this sort of global coverage. It will be broadcast in the Far East, Americas and across the world and the viewing figures are in their billions it's just incredible.”

Mark Williams won the 2018 World Championship. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

Mark Williams won the 2018 World Championship. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

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The Crucible has become known as the ‘home of snooker’ and the sport's flagship tournament has been hosted at the 980-seat venue since 1977.

Action will get underway with the World Championship Qualifiers at the English Instiitute of Sport Sheffield from April 10 to 17.

The top 16 ranked players qualify for the competition automatically, with the other 16 places filled by those successful at the EIS Sheffield.

Last year's final at the Crucible in Sheffield. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

Last year's final at the Crucible in Sheffield. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

Mr Clifton said: “I think it’s easy to forget that we have the qualifiers. There are generally some big names to be fair – it was only two years ago Mark Williams failed to qualify and he won it last year.”

It is not just the city’s economy which will benefit from the thousands of visitors and tourists either – Sheffield charities will too.

The annual Cue Ball, which has raised £350,000 for charities over the past 15 years, will take place on Thursday, April 18 at the Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s hotel.

This year the event will raise cash for Baby Basics, which helps families who struggle the financial and practical burden of looking after a new born baby and Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind.

Gary Clifton, Sheffield Council's major events manager.

Gary Clifton, Sheffield Council's major events manager.

Mr Clifton said: “The tournament will be worth around £3 million to the city’s economy but it’s so much more than that – it is just a shop window for the city.

“The media value, if you wanted to buy it, would be more than £5 million but it is showcasing Sheffield to the world. You can’t put a price on the effect it has on the tourism and visitor profile in the city.”

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Mr Clifton said there would once again be the Cue Zone set up in the Winter Garden, complete with the BBC studio where the live coverage will be presented form.

There will also be big screens installed in Tudor Square and live performances from street entertainers.

For more information or to book tickets visit www.cruciblesnooker.com

Joe Johnson, World Snooker Champion 1986.

Joe Johnson, World Snooker Champion 1986.

As well as playing host to the game's top 32 players, the Crucible Theatre will also stage the Sheffield Masters –  featuring former World Snooker professionals.

The tournament will celebrate the achievements of former world champion Cliff Thorburn, from Canada, and will be held on Thursday, April 11.

It will also include a visit from Sarah Fountain Smith, the Canadian Deputy High Commissioner to the UK as well as a champions’ dinner the night before.

Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, said: “It’s going to be a lot of fun.

“The Sheffield Masters is a World Seniors Snooker tour event that’s been put together to bring all of our past masters back and to bring some of the sport’s great characters back.

“We have got a great passion towards Sheffield – we love the place, we love the Crucible and we love the people. It’s just a great place to be.

“We spend a lot of time there during the year, I hold a lot of meetings there and it’s just a wonderful city and it’s great to see it developing and we have seen our sport grow with it.”

Former professionals including Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty, John Virgo, John Parrott, Joe Johnson, Dennis Taylor and Jimmy White will also be rolling back the years when they take to the baize at the home of snooker.

The event will also see a golf day at Dore and Totley Golf Club on Wednesday, April 10 and a champions’ dinner and auction 10 at The Kenwood Hall Hotel and Spa taking place on the evening of April 10.

There will be a raffle and auction with all proceeds being donated to the Sheffield charity Eden Dora Trust for Children with Encephalitis. Organisers are now now looking for sponsors for the golf day , the pre-champions dinner drinks reception and the dinner itself .

For more information on the snooker tournament or to book tickets visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call 0114 2496000.

Or for more information on The Eden Dora Trust for Children with encephalitis, run by Petrina Sill, email petrina@edendoratrust.org.

And to find out more about sponsorship opportunities , to book to play in the golf day or to buy a table at The Champions dinner, email info@snookerlegends.co.uk.

Alex Higgins is saluted by his baby daughter Lauren with his wife Lynne, after a nail-biting battle against six-times champion Ray Reardon at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre in 1982.  Picture: PA Archive.

Alex Higgins is saluted by his baby daughter Lauren with his wife Lynne, after a nail-biting battle against six-times champion Ray Reardon at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre in 1982. Picture: PA Archive.

Cliff Thorburn won the World Snooker title in 1980.

Cliff Thorburn won the World Snooker title in 1980.