Ronnie O’Sullivan may U-turn on World Snooker Championship venue as new proposal made
Ronnie O'Sullivan explains why he made a 146 in 2016
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Proposals for a new 3,000-seat venue next to the Crucible could convince Ronnie O’Sullivan to alter his position on where the World Snooker Championship is hosted. ‘The Rocket’ has previously spoken out against the tournament being moved from the Sheffield site in any form, but the ‘Crucible 2’ plans could provide a happy compromise.
The Daily Mail reported architect James Burland is in negotiations to design and build a new World Championship venue, which would be connected to the current, 980-seat Crucible via a bridge. Plans mirror those on display at Wimbledon, where the iconic Centre Court is linked to Court No. 1 in similar fashion.
Five thousand was the minimum figure O’Sullivan previously suggested should be considered if the Crucible was planning to beef up its crowd capacity. The Sheffield location has, after all, been good to the seven-time world champion and was recently praised by O’Sullivan for its intimate atmosphere.
“I really like The Crucible, I think it’s an amazing venue,” he told talkSPORT. “It’s sort of iconic, there’s a brilliant atmosphere. It is our best venue and I’d only move it if they could get 5,000 people which would mean double the prize money.
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“Or unless China come in with an offer that you just couldn’t refuse. Otherwise, why would you move it from Sheffield? Sheffield has been great to snooker, it’s sort of like the home of snooker really. Until someone comes up with an offer you can’t refuse then I’d just keep it where it is.”
Although the extension plans would still fall short of that figure, it may be considered close enough for O’Sullivan to get on board. The 3,000 seats included in Burland’s design along with the existing building would bring the Crucible’s combined capacity up to just short of 4,000.
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It was in 2003 that entrepreneur Peter Bainbridge asked Burland: “How many people can you fit around a snooker table?” From that sprouted the idea for a ‘Billiardrome’ and eventually the new plans for the ‘Crucible 2’, which will prioritise the fan experience above all else.
Burland—who was invited by Jason Ferguson,chair of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, to attend O’Sullivan’s 18-13 final win over Judd Trump—told Express Sport about ‘aura planning’ and the higher emphasis on producing atmosphere over pure design. “There is an assumption in architecture that architects are trained and can predict what’s going to create a great atmosphere,” said Burland. “Well, I don’t think so.
He highlights West Ham’s London Stadium and how the Olympic running track distances fans from the players, though his own research suggests there are other factors affecting atmosphere. “There are a lot of people saying they know what it is [that harms atmosphere], but do they really? I think the people who really know are the players and the spectators. It’s not clear-cut at all,” added Burland. “It’s just somehow finding the magic.”
O’Sullivan sealed victory over Trump on Monday to seal the most recent of his joint-record seven world titles. ‘The Juddernaut’ has in the past suggested the World Championship could do with a change of scenery, though he’s since changed his mind.
“I was wrong when I said I wanted to move from here,” Trump conceded following the final. “I think it should definitely stay at the Crucible.”
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