The intriguing move by the Sheffield Theatres Trust has reopened the debate about whether the World Snooker Championships will move from the notoriously pokey venue, which has hosted the tournament since 1977.
Despite last year's announcement by the sport's governing body that the championships would stay in the South Yorkshire city until 2010, rumours persist that a new, purpose-built venue could be on the cards.
Architect James Burland has even come up with an early concept ( pictured) for a specially designed 'billiardrome' to be built across the road from the existing 1971 theatre, which was designed by Renton, Howard, Wood and Associates.
However, the trust's decision to find a design team to 'upgrade the public spaces and back-of-house facilities' signals a determination to keep the snooker showpiece.
One source believed the proposed overhaul was inevitable. He said: 'The facilities [there] are completely redundant. They are completely ridiculous considering the popularity of the sport.'
It is understood that a maximum of six consortia will be shortlisted for the project, which is being fast-tracked through 'an accelerated procedure'.
The deadline for invitations to tender is 15 September.
For more information visit www.ted.europa.eu(OJEU number 2006/s 166-178434).