Thousands of fans set to descend on Wolverhampton for Grand Slam of Darts

Wolverhampton's night-time economy will be hitting a much needed bullseye thanks to the return of the Grand Slam of Darts.

Lee Kelly and Shelley Smith putting the final preparations are underway for the Grand Slam of Darts at Aldersley Village
Lee Kelly and Shelley Smith putting the final preparations are underway for the Grand Slam of Darts at Aldersley Village

Firmly established as one of the most exciting events in the sporting calendar, the tournament will attract big spending sports fans to the city for nine nights.

Returning for its 15th year in the city with all its normal glitz and glamour, the sport's best 32 players will be on the oche in Aldersley Leisure Village as its traditional home, the Civic Halls, undergoes refurbishment.

Leader of Wolverhampton Council Ian Brookfield is delighted the darts is back where it belongs and will be in the crowd.

He said: "It's fantastic the Grand Slam is back in Wolverhampton. Tickets sales have gone through the roof and the city is fast becoming a centre of darts excellence.

"A lot of local people will be going to the tournament, myself included, but what I am really looking forward to is next year when the event will be held in the newly refurbished Civic Hall."

Lisa Parsons, landlady of the Wheatsheaf, Market Street, is looking forward to welcoming the darts fans to the pub.

She said: "We love seeing the darts fans in the pub, they are so much fun, no matter where they are from. We get no trouble just lots of laughs with darts fans.

"They usually dress up in costumes as well and always have a real laugh with the locals, we missed them last year."

Event manager Danny Jenks and stage manager Augustus Keen are aiming for a double top night on Saturday

First held in the city in 2007, fans flocked to the tournament as stars from both the Professional Darts Corporation and the British Darts Organisation competed for bragging rights.

Wednesfield North Councillor Phil Bateman, who was first elected in 1981, offered a historic perspective on the importance of the Grand Slam returning to Wolverhampton.

He said: "We are a city which is over a 1,000 years old with a history which spans from the Vikings through the wool trade to the industrial revolution and now we are looking to the future and the darts is an important part of that.

"The darts is a worldwide sport so it is important for the reputation of Wolverhampton that we kept the sport synonymous with the city. It will be wonderful for the pubs, clubs, bars and hotels to have an influx of visitors. We have always been an international city so we know how to welcome people, from the exploits of Wolverhampton Wanderers to the University attracting students from across the world."

He added: "Next year will be an important year because we will get the Civic Halls back at their best and then we will need to look at increasing the number of hotel rooms and improving the quality of those hotel rooms."

Despite Wolverhampton Civic Hall's reopening being delayed by six years PDC chairman Barry Hearn was determined to keep the Grand Slam in the city but is looking forward to returning to its rightful home in 2022.

He said: "The Grand Slam of Darts is synonymous with being held in Wolverhampton, and though the Wolves Civic is currently closed it's great that we can keep the tournament within the city.

"The Grand Slam is all ready for its last year at the village before it goes back to the Civic and we start thinking that our world is returning to normality."

Wolverhampton Council responded to Mr Hearn's good faith and patience by laying on buses for fans to and from the city centre to the leisure village for just £2.50

The council also announced the Covid-19 vaccination centre at the village will close for the duration of the tournament and reopen on Tuesday, November 23.

Cabinet member for public health and wellbeing Councillor Jasbir Jaspal said: "While Aldersley Leisure Village is unavailable, there are still plenty of other locations where people can get their life-saving Covid-19 jab, so do make sure you get yours as soon as it is due.

"I am also pleased that the vaccination programme will continue during the temporary closure of the site at Aldersley, with medical staff who would otherwise be working there instead taking the opportunity to deliver vaccinations in local care homes and to residents who are housebound."

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