From East Wintergarden to Alexandra Palace – Preview with Promoter Tim Garner

The inaugural edition of the GillenMarkets London Squash Classic 2024 gets underway later today, with 48 players arriving in the English capital to compete for the title at Alexandra Palace.

The PSA World Tour Gold event, which is a continuation of the iconic Canary Wharf Classic, will be held at the world-famous sporting venue Alexandra Palace from the second-round onwards, with day one of action hosted by Collhurst Tennis & Squash Club.

Proposed refurbishments to the previous East Wintergarden venue prompted the change in location, with a stunning all-glass court having been readied at Alexandra Palace – a venue which has become renowned for hosting the Darts World Championships over the last decade.

Below, we spoke to tournament promoter Tim Garner about the process behind the change in venue, why Alexandra Palace was chosen, and the introduction of a women’s draw to the tournament.

When did you first hear about the proposed refurbishments to East Wintergarden and that a change of venue would be needed?

“It was mentioned just prior to the 2023 edition of the Canary Wharf Classic that there were likely to be plans to refurbish the venue in a way that was likely to have an impact on our event footprint heading into the future.”

Why did you choose Alexandra Palace?

I always keep a list of potential venues as I come across them, but I then started doing a search on the internet for potential venues with certain criteria, such as space, number of seats, height (so that the court can fit), etc.

 “I had looked at their [Alexandra Palace’s] big halls that have hosted the Darts and music gigs over the last 10 years, and when I re-visited their site to check them out again I noticed they had a theatre, that, although it was 150 years old, had only recently re-opened.

What do you think makes the Ally Pally such a great venue? 

“It’s an iconic venue with a great location overlooking North London.

The buzz that the Darts has created around their three week residence each December, means that the mere mention of Ally Pally conjures up images of people having a good time!”

How pleased are you to have been able to introduce a women’s draw along with the change of venue?

It was always our intention to include a women’s event at some point, but the difficulty of playing during the day given all the glass in the East Wintergarden at Canary Wharf made that a challenge.

Moving venue was the natural time to introduce a women’s event and give the top women the chance to play in the English capital for the first time in over a decade.

“The women’s game has been an incredible asset in recent years and combining both events should definitely make the event better for it.”