The stars of world snooker will again descend on Galway this spring following the announcement that the Players’ Tour Championships (PTC) Grand Finals is returning to the city.
The Grand Finals is the culmination of 13 tour events in the PTC and only the top 25 players from the Order of Merit plus seven from the Asian Order of Merit will be allowed come to Galway and compete for the €123,000 top prize.
The event will again be held in NUI Galway’s Bailey-Allen Hall, from 12 to 17 March and will be televised live on Eurosport. 80 million viewers tuned in to view last year’s event and the city fended off competition from Qatar, Belgium and Malta to secure the rights to the tournament.
Among the snooker heavyweights already sure to qualify are World Number One Mark Selby and World Number Two Judd Trump, as well as John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Mark Allen and Ireland’s former World Champion Ken Doherty. Ding Junhui, who is one of China’s most popular sports stars, will also be among the 32 competitors.
“We are thrilled to be heading back to Galway for this prestigious tournament. The Bailey Allen Hall proved an excellent venue last year and there was a superb atmosphere in the arena,” said a spokesman for World Snooker.
The event is being brought back to Galway by event promoter Shea McNelis and his brother, Galway City Councillor Niall McNelis, who said that it was “absolutely brilliant news” to hear the event was returning.
Cllr McNelis said the organisers hoped to replicate the atmosphere of Sheffield, where the World Championships are held annually, “[Galway] has the look and feel of Sheffield,” he said, adding that the players particularly enjoyed the city last year.
“When the players were here, they were able to walk from the university back to the hotels and they were being stopped on the street for autographs,” he said.
Cllr McNelis said the organisers hoped to break even this year and, if successful, bring the event back in 2014.
The organisers have received no help from Bord Fáilte or any Irish TV stations, although discussions are ongoing with a “big, big sponsor”, said Cllr McNelis.
“I don’t think anybody really sees the potential of this,” he added.
Ticket for the tournament will be released on 13 January and fans are advised to book immediately to ensure their chance to see the action live. Prices are expected to be similar to last year’s. Visit www.worldsnooker.com for further updates.