The World Championship can safeguard its long-term future in Sheffield by building a bigger Crucible Theatre to host the event, according to former World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn.
WST are halfway through a 10-year agreement to stage the sport's blue-chip event at the 980-seat venue and do not pay any rent to Sheffield City Council to hold the tournament over 17 days in April and May with all profit from tickets being ploughed back into the sport's main commercial organisation.
Hearn admits he is "totally committed" to staying in Sheffield, but would like to see the local area adapt to the need for a larger venue that could potentially attract greater hospitality for fans and sponsorship.
Key dates and schedule for 2022-23 snooker season as O'Sullivan defends world crown
Judd Trump and Neil Robertson are two former world champions who are keen to move with the times to enhance snooker's standing with both players wanting to replicate the atmosphere of the Masters at Alexandra Palace in London which can house 2,000 fans for a session.
The thirst for greater numbers would involve leaving the Crucible, but Hearn has cautioned against such a move despite the cramped nature of the iconic theatre, home of the tournament since 1977.
'The crowd is just so good here' - Trump whips up crowd
“I have always said in my lifetime we will never be moving. But I would challenge Sheffield Council, as I am doing, why don’t we evaluate the idea of building a new Crucible in Sheffield, which is bigger, and then we get the best of both worlds," said Hearn in the Yorkshire Post. "That’s what I shall I be aiming for.
There’s a lot of people not looking at the big picture. The big picture is what snooker brings to Sheffield, and what Sheffield brings to snooker.
"It’s called history, it’s called reputation, if you want to be modern, it’s called brand value.
"It’s not just a question of a few extra bums on seats in a bigger arena. It’s about enhancing the broadcast value which brings in far more money than a few ticket sales.
"We are committed under a 10-year deal for the next four years to be in Sheffield."
Robertson has also floated the idea of playing the tournament at two venues in Sheffield with increased space, but Hearn has dismissed that suggestion with the current agreement due to expire in 2027.
“The idea of running simultaneous venues is not new, it just doesn’t work," he said.
“It doesn’t work from a PR point of view, it certainly doesn’t work from a TV production point of view – you are doubling up.
‘That would be amazing’ – Robertson on moving World Championship to another venue
“It’s an idea, and God bless snooker players, they have some great ideas, and are also great snooker players.
“I can’t play snooker, but I have great ideas.”
- - -
Stream the 2022 World Championship and more top snooker action live and on-demand on discovery+
World Championship qualifiers to be played over 19 frames
Opinion: O’Sullivan has found a formula for success that can bring more glory
Share this article