Point is, it should be a good venue. I was at the hotel next door to the TIC. As was Stephen Maguire, Shaun Murphy, Stephen Hendry, Stuart Bingham, Rob Walker, Pete Williamson, Jan Ver Haas and Paul Collier. And those are just the ones I saw coming and going. I didn't really talk to them much, apart from a short but rather nice chat with Rob Walker, because I didn't want to bother them on their own time. Point is, though, it should've been a really nice venue. Get to meet players, easy to find somewhere to say, large modern arena. But something is missing.
On my first year in Telford, I arrived on coach the evening before the matches started. Telford is pretty small and insignificant, and full of trees. When I got there, it was like stepping into a forest. I saw no evidence that anybody lived there for the first ten minutes of my walk to the hotel, it was like one of those old horror films. Somebody arrives in town, and it's dark and deserted. That's when I noticed the problem, originally. The probelm is, it's not Sheffield. When you go to Sheffield, everybody in the city knows the snooker is on. It's been there every year since 1977. You walk off the station, the sign is up there saying; "Welcome to Sheffield, City of Snooker." You get a cab to the hotel, the driver says; "So, you here for the snooker, mate?" The hotel I go to is right next door to The Crucible, so every single person is there for the snooker. The players don't stay there for fear of having to talk to all the fans.
At Telford, I once had somebody ask me in the pub 10 minutes away from the TIC where the snooker was being held. The hotel staff knew the snooker was on, but didn't bother to make any conversation about it. Something that would be unthinkable at Sheffield. Even the hotel staff that don't know about it, swot up on it so they can make some conversation about it. The problem at Telford is, and was especially obvious at the hotel local to the TIC, they see it as just another event. The TIC hosts conferences, and exhibitions. This is treated as no different. I was staying in a hotel with a lot of snooker personalities, but nobody made any conversation about snooker with me. It still felt very, very dry. I enjoyed being live in the snooker, but the rest I just felt like I was staying in a hotel. Alone. Not staying in a hotel with a large group of the snooker family. Also the fact that the majority of people that are there are only there because it's their nearest venue, not because they want to travel to watch snooker. There was only five people in the Shaun Murphy match, it don't help.
I know this isn't the fault of World Snooker, per se. Barry Hearn isn't going to turn up at all the hotels in Telford and tell staff; "Engage people in conversation about snooker, or else." But surely, something can be done to help promote it a bit more, market it. Make people more aware that the snooker is there.
Sorry, that was a long rant, but something I've noticed. I never went to the Preston Guild Hall. It is supposed to have atmosphere as good as The Crucible. Is that something that is held across Preston, and does it compare to Sheffield those who've gone to both? And, though I want the worlds to retain their aura, what else can be done to make the UK and other tournaments more 'Crucibley.'
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