Voices: How does Sheffield hosting the World Snooker Championships benefit the city?
How does Sheffield hosting the World Snooker Championships benefit the city? We ask those in the know
IVAN HIRSCHOWITZ, HEAD OF MEDIA, WORLD SNOOKER
For the 17 days of the World Championship, nearly 500 million television viewers in over 100 countries across the planet will be watching the action at the Crucible Theatre. This is a massive sporting event and puts Sheffield on the global map for a fortnight every Spring.
This benefits the city in terms of tourism, trade and its reputation for staging successful major events. Research conducted by Sheffield Hallam University reveals that the city’s economy has been boosted by £100 million by staging the World Championship since 1977. The research described snooker’s biggest event as 'a great marketing vehicle for Sheffield around the world; not least in economies such as Asia with whom the city is looking to forge links.'
A visit to the Crucible is a pilgrimage for snooker fans. Some come from as far away as Australia and New Zealand year after year. So for the people of Sheffield to have the tournament on their doorstep is a privilege and a source of pride. The World Championship brings a buzz to the city, not only inside the Crucible but in the Winter Garden where the Cue Zone and BBC studio are housed, and Tudor Square where fans enjoy watching on the big screen.
So strong is the World Championship as a commercial property that many other cities around the UK would love to host it, not to mention countries such as China, where the sport has a vast following. World Snooker could earn more money by moving it elsewhere but over its 41-year history at the Crucible, the World Championship has developed a relationship with Sheffield that money can’t buy. Set foot inside the hallowed arena and the memories come flooding back.
We have a fantastic relationship with Sheffield City Council and last year we signed a deal to keep the tournament in the city until at least 2027. We look forward to returning for many years to come.
JOHN MOTHERSOLE, SHEFFIELD CITY COUNCIL CHIEF EXECUTIVE
Every year at about the same time the feel of the city changes. World Snooker rolls into town, and there is a definite buzz that comes with it. Famous faces, players and celebrity fans alike, casually appear in bars and restaurants and no matter how much Sheffield likes to take things in its stride you can tell that there is quiet pride and pleasure that the ‘finals’ have once again come back home.
By the standards of any sporting event, a 40+ years unbroken relationship with one place is remarkable. It is hard to be certain how close we ever came to losing it. Having been on the inside track of the negotiations to keep it here there have certainly been opportunities for it to go elsewhere, globally, but each time we have won. The current 10 year deal though is brilliant as it settles everything down and we can focus on what really matters which is the snooker.
But, to Sheffield, it is more than a game, and the statistics are staggering – 43,000 tickets sold so quickly that the computer system went into meltdown and 80 per cent of that 43,000 are sold to people outside of our city. For the BBC, this event is second only to Wimbledon. Four million UK viewers will watch the final live. Over 80 counties will be watching it (and therefore watching Sheffield). That’s a global audience of 330 million. More than 60 million people in China watched the semi-finals live in 2016.
By anybody’s standards these figures are huge. They amount to nearly £5 million of value every year to Sheffield as well as the intangible benefits of the feel good factor.
And finally, we’ve all experienced the word association phenomenon. Go to just about any country in the world and say Liverpool and the response will be The Beatles; say Manchester and you will hear United; say Sheffield and you will hear Snooker. There is an old marketing adage that it is better to be known for something; anything rather than nothing. Well, World Snooker is not just anything. It is a global sport, massively on the rise and it is here in Sheffield.
Quite simply, what’s not to like about that?
DIANE JARVIS, SHEFFIELD BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT MANAGER
The current environment sees cities vying to attract people, businesses and investments in an increasingly competitive market. The high-profile nature of major sporting events such as World Snooker provides an important branding tool for Sheffield’s identity.
When the world’s eyes are on the Crucible for the World Snooker Championship, Sheffield has a unique opportunity to promote itself on the international stage.
With more than 45,000 visitors descending on the city this is a significant boost to the economy, and an opportunity to encourage footfall around multiple locations to shape and widen awareness of our heritage, cultural and built environment.
World Snooker is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to promote themselves, and for Sheffield to showcase itself as a genuine visitor destination.
During the championship, it’s good to see cafes, bars and restaurants bustling throughout the day and into the evening. Tudor Square becomes a hub of activity, with snooker fans spilling out to discover all that Sheffield has to offer.
The championship gives Sheffielders a sense of pride in the city. From retailers to cultural attractions to restaurants, businesses from all sectors get involved and embrace snooker fans with open arms and a warm Sheffield welcome.
As part of our Alive After Five strategy, Sheffield BID promotes special-offers from businesses which are keen to engage with the championship and offer something extra to those enjoying the city centre during their visit. These offers benefit the city because they encourage snooker fans to experience the city centre, increasing both dwell time and spend.
The benefits of hosting World Snooker extend beyond the Championship itself, leading to lasting economic benefits for the visitor economy and tourism through increased recognition of the city. We often see snooker fans returning to Sheffield, keen to enjoy the city outside of the snooker season.”