Marshall Arena is excited to be the host of Championship League Snooker – the first professional sport to take place in the UK since the Coronavirus lockdown started.
From the 1st to the 11th June, 64 of the world’s top players - including world number one Judd Trump - will head to Stadium MK to compete a behind-closed-doors tournament which will be broadcast live to the nation on ITV4.
As well as establishing another first for Milton Keynes, this event also marks the first step towards re-opening Stadium MK.
“Everyone at Stadium MK is incredibly excited to be able to play our part in bringing live sport back to TV’s across the nation,” Pete Winkelman told mkdons.com.
“There has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to make sure our venue will be safe and COVID secure.
“We are eagerly awaiting June 1st and the start of what I’m sure will be another thrilling sporting occasion here in Milton Keynes during the year we celebrate being the European City of Sport.”
Andy Gibb, Group Sales and Marketing Director at Stadium MK told mkdons.com: “During these unprecedented times, this is a pivotal moment for the Marshall Arena and Stadium MK.
“We, along with Matchroom Sport, ITV, MK Council and Government advisors, have worked tirelessly to ensure that we can operate with COVID-19 guidelines, including social distancing, and that everyone involved will be kept safe.
“A number of additional measures have been put in place to allow Matchroom Sport and ITV to provide many across the country with an opportunity to watch live sport for the first time since Lockdown began.
“This will include virus-testing all players and staff prior to entering the venue, with players requiring a negative test result in order to take their place in the competition.
“The DoubleTree by Hilton Milton Keynes will also be used by players, officials and staff, meaning nobody will need to leave Stadium MK once they have entered.”
The tournament itself will take place over 11 days and include three phases, culminating in finals which will be held on June 11, with the player finishing top to be crowned champion.
Coverage by ITV Sport's team will be coordinated remotely and will follow Coronavirus safety guidelines, with Jill and the on-screen team operating from their homes while commentators David Hendon, Phil Yates and Dominic Dale will cover the event from the venue.
Matchroom Sport Chairman Barry Hearn said: “During the challenging times of the past few weeks we have examined the opportunities which still exist and worked relentlessly towards the goal of getting our tour going again. While most other sports remain sidelined, we are ready to return from June 1st. This sends out a message to the sporting world that snooker is at the forefront of innovation.
“Our first priority has to be safety and we have had detailed discussions with government in creating a set of approved guidelines for the event which will be rigorously followed. We are making this very clear to the players and everyone working on the event.
“One of the reasons we have selected the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes is that accommodation is on site, which means that once players arrive for testing the night before they play, they don’t need to leave until their matches have finished, and they can remain isolated within the venue. It is a superb venue with ideal facilities.
“These are challenging times but as always we are looking at the opportunities rather than the limitations.”
Controller of ITV Sport Production, Mark Demuth, said: "We know fans have been missing live action since the lockdown has been in place, so we're delighted to bring snooker back, marking the return of live sport to free-to-air TV.
“Behind the scenes, our team has been working with the event organisers to ensure strict adherence to guidelines to safeguard the well-being of all involved, which is our priority."