World Snooker Championship chiefs in talks over plans for a 3,000 seat venue next to the Crucible


Organizers of the World Snooker Championship are studying a proposal to build a new 3,000 seater arena to stage the tournament alongside the Crucible.

Jason Ferguson, president of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, is in talks with architect James Burland, who designed a purpose-built venue with a bridge connecting it to the event’s existing and iconic home.

Burland’s idea is for the new development to act as “Crucible 2”, with matches split there and the old theater as Wimbledon’s Center Court and No. 1 Court.

The Crucible has hosted the World Championship since 1977 and has a contract until 2027

The plan comes amid recent criticism from a number of top players of the limited capacity and facilities at the 980-seater Crucible, which has hosted the World Championship since 1977 and has a contract until 2027.

“It’s a concept and an idea to try to grow this event somehow,” Ferguson said. sports mail.

“We have no intention of leaving Sheffield. It’s our home. But we know we really have to look at around 3,000 World Championship places now.

“Events like the Masters grow so much and the danger is that the World Championship starts to look smaller, which it really can’t because those are the crown jewels of what we do.”

“It’s not the only path, but it’s an initial concept that James came up with. Can Le Creuset be a double site?’

Players have complained about the 980-seat Crucible's limited capacity and facilities

Players have complained about the 980-seat Crucible’s limited capacity and facilities

Burland, along with entrepreneur Peter Bainbridge, first proposed a ‘Billiardrome’ almost 20 years ago, when Sheffield was battling bids to host rival cities’ first snooker event.

It’s those plans that have been revived and reworked after Ferguson recently reconnected with Burland, who he invited as a guest at last weekend’s World Finals.

“He and I had a chat a few months ago and we rekindled the relationship and started discussing what it might look like, Ferguson said.

“He’s been here for a few days talking to people, building a picture of what the perfect outcome looks like. His initial sketch contains some good ideas.

Burland, who designed Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium with a team from Arup, said: “When we looked at it years ago we thought it would be the new venue, but it’s different now – it works with the Crucible.

Plan a new 3,000-seat arena to stage the World Championship alongside the Crucible

Plan a new 3,000-seat arena to stage the World Championship alongside the Crucible

“The second place doesn’t have to be a replacement, it can be a complement. It makes the whole event easier to organize, with more facilities.

Burland’s proposed site for the building is the former Roxy Disco in Sheffield, now the O2 Academy, with a bridge to the Crucible above Arundel Gate.

The main auditorium would be round and divided into three tiers – the upper and lower spectator tiers, with corporate and media seating in the middle.

Burland’s concept includes a billiard museum with a spiraling entrance, a giant screen surrounding the exterior of the building, and rooftop television studios.

The ground floor would be the training area and could also host the World Championship qualifiers.

The 3,000-seat arena could convert to 1,500 with folding tables for conferences

The 3,000-seat arena could convert to 1,500 with folding tables for conferences

“I like the idea of ​​you giving it up to get a position in the coliseum above,” Burland said. “So the holy of holies is to win and cross the bridge to play.”

The 3,000-seat arena could be converted to 1,500 with folding tables for conferences. The venue could also host music concerts and other sports, such as boxing and table tennis.

During his recent visit to Sheffield, Burland conducted a study of the atmosphere of the Crucible, reaching out to legends such as Steve Davis and John Parrott to inform his design.

“These guys have 40 years of experience in the game,” Burland said. ‘Who am I to say I know what you need because I’m an architect?

“History is extremely important. You don’t want to lose what the Crucible has, just upgrade it.

“That’s why I look at it first from the perspective of the atmosphere. I know I have to do my research on the atmosphere to get it right.

Architect James Burland designed Manchester City's Etihad Stadium with a team from Arup

Architect James Burland designed Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium with a team from Arup

“In a pilot study I did, three descriptors stand out: drama, story and friendliness. A mixture of these must be in every part of how this thing works.

Former World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn also revealed last month that initial discussions had taken place with Sheffield City Council about building a new melting pot. But Burland is the only architect to come up with a design solution so far.

“At this stage, these are very preliminary discussions, but we are coming up with a concept of what would be a huge benefit to the city and a true international destination,” added Ferguson.

“There is a huge way to go with this. This would involve what is possible from a planning perspective, how can this be funded, who are the partners.

“We will have a meeting to try to move the discussion forward with Sheffield City Council. They are very open-minded about what could be done.

“I think a feasibility study will provide the answers and I think that would be the next phase.”

“We don’t panic at the idea of ​​moving. We are set for the next five years. But the question is, during this time, can we imagine what the future will look like?

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