This event was first staged in 2015 and had been previously played in Llandudno and Preston. Organisers World Snooker wanted a new top-class venue for this prestigious event, with the primary goal of attracting fans.
The World Grand Prix is a key event on snooker’s global circuit. It brings together the best 32 players on the one-year ranking list, which means that the 32 players who have earned the most money during the season are in the field. It is a world ranking event, televised by ITV, with total prize money of £375,000.
A stellar line up of players competed in the tournament, including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Judd Trump and Neil Robertson. Trump won the title, beating Ali Carter in the final.
The biggest challenges when staging a major snooker event are:
Is the venue big enough to host an arena with seating for around 800 fans, plus the snooker tables with lighting rig, and television commentary box? As well as suitable areas to set up facilities backstage, including practice tables, players lounge, tournament office, media centre, television production and general public foyer? Sufficient space for parking and television broadcast trucks is also essential, as well as access for rigging trucks.
Will fans in the local area come to the event? Historically, tournaments in certain areas of the UK have proved successful for ticket sales, while others have not fared as well. This was the first ever major snooker tournament staged in Cheltenham.
An extensive marketing campaign took place in the weeks leading up to the tournament, after the initial announcement which took place in May 2018. World Snooker worked closely with the venue and their PR team on this campaign.
Key marketing included partnerships with local media, advertising, digital campaigns, posters and flyers. Local media focussed on home favourite Jack Lisowski, who comes from Churchdown in Gloucestershire. World Snooker’s digital team produced a video showing Lisowski being taught how to ride a horse by jockey Ryan Hatch. And a press conference with Lisowski days before the event itself raised awareness about the tournament.
The result was a successful tournament. The venue proved an excellent setting in terms of its facilities and location. The feedback from World Snooker, ITV, sponsor Coral and other contractors was very good. Two of snooker’s top players, Stuart Bingham and Mark Williams, posted pictures of themselves on social media with the Racecourse in the background, commenting on what a fantastic venue it is.
Ticket sales were strong, with nearly 3,600 sold across the seven days.
Given this success, World Snooker has decided to keep this tournament at Cheltenham Racecourse, with the 2020 World Grand Prix set to run from February 3-9 2020.