Ronnie O'Sullivan has offered a couple of reasons as to why it might make sense to move the prestigious event from the Crucible - but reiterated that, as things stand, he wants the tournament to stay in Sheffield.
Prior to this year’s world championship event, several players criticised the iconic venue for its size and suggested the event should be moved elsewhere. During an interview with talkSPORT, the Rocket revealed he would like the tournament to stay at the theatre, unless an irresistible offer arrives from elsewhere.
“I really like the Crucible, I think it’s an amazing venue,” O’Sullivan said. “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. 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.” The likes of Stephen Maguire, who has won six major ranking tournaments, joined the voices of discontent regarding the Crucible.
The 'Maverick' - who suggested his height was an issue at the building - even has a replacement venue in mind. "I’m not slagging the Crucible, but I’m not the biggest fan of the Crucible, I think it’s small," Maguire told The Metro on the eve of the World Championship. "I’ve said that from day one when I qualified, it’s very small and it takes a bit to get used to."
Judd Trump, who was beaten 18-13 by O’Sullivan in the world final, was in favour of a venue switch initially, but after competing in front of a raucous audience, the former world number one had a change of heart.
“I was wrong when I said I wanted to move from here," said Trump post-match. “I think it should definitely stay at the Crucible.” Last month, Barry Hearn confirmed talks with Sheffield Council over the prospect of building a 'new Crucible'. The Matchroom Sport president shed some light on the matter and explained that while conversations have been had regarding a new venue, the current building will continue to host the tournament for now.
“A lot of people have been quite public about us needing to go to a bigger venue,” Hearn began. “I can understand it’s quite cramped at the Crucible, especially with a two-table set-up. The demand for tickets means a lot of people don’t get to tick their bucket list wishes and get to the Crucible. We have an agreement with Sheffield Council for the next five years. That will be honoured. I’ve always made it quite clear that while I’m alive I want snooker to stay in Sheffield. We’re synonymous with Sheffield, the history we have created.”
He added: “But there are early-stage talks at the moment with Sheffield Council. Why don’t we look at perhaps building a new Crucible in Sheffield? Maybe a 2,000 or 2,500-seater venue instead of 900, which we know we’ll fill up every time. And maybe a little bit more space on the playing arena. It’ll cost money. It all starts with the first conversation and it ends when we open the doors to a magnificent new Crucible.”