The successful roll out of the trays that will make up the ground-breaking retractable pitch at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium has been described as a ‘massive milestone.’
Fans keeping a close eye on our popular live cameras will have seen the west and centre sections of the retractable grass pitch – huge trays each made up of 33 smaller trays – being tested throughout the course of Saturday and Sunday as they were moved out from underneath the South Stand before joining together and then returning back into the South Stand garage.
Designed, engineered, built and installed by Sheffield-based engineering specialist SCX, the pitch will be made up of three sections in total with the east section set to be tested in the near future.
Once complete, all three sections will slide out simultaneously in approximately 25 minutes, with the west and east sections moving laterally to connect with the centre section and create seamless joins in the grass playing surface.
Aside from two of the pitch sections, the hydraulic sides were also tested over the weekend. Weighing 480 tonnes these sides lift once the three pitch trays have connected in order to raise the touchlines so they are at the same level as the grass playing surface.
The many elements that make up the mechanics of this incredible operation have been tested over several years across a number of locations around the country, including at the Spurs’ Training Centre, and this was the first time all that work has been seen in action in one place inside the new stadium.
Nick Cooper, SCX’s head of moving structures, said:
The weekend represented the first time we’ve moved the pitch trays out. To do that, we had to fix up the generators, the electrics, SCX brought down their design and mechanical engineers just in case anything happened and what I can report is that it worked first time exactly how we wanted it to work, which is great news.
The hydraulic sides are enormous, a 120-metre truss that runs the full length of the pitch and it all moves up and raises together. In one side, there are eight moving bridges all operating concurrently. That is a tremendous achievement by the electrical engineers. The sides weigh 480 tonnes, so we’re lifting 480 tonnes up in a matter of minutes – and it all works beautifully.
Danny Pickard, senior project manager, SCX said:
It’s the first time the moving pitch as a completed unit has been slid out and moved together. The weekend was all about the first movement from the garage area where we’ve assembled the pitch trays to bring them out into the bowl to see how smoothly it ran, to see how well the edges of the trays lined up and to also interface with the hydraulic pitch sides, so a test of what we’d call the big picture, how all the big pieces fit together.
It took a lot of work by a lot of people to get it there, lots of late nights but the weekend went brilliantly. We’d done a lot of testing beforehand of all the smaller pieces but the size and scale of the overall project…there is a lot of weight, mechanisms, manufacturing tolerances and installation tolerances, so to have tested all that and for it all to have fitted together first time was a great achievement for everyone who has put it together. It was a massive milestone completed for us.
John Hewitt, directorat Hewitt Sports Turf, added:
We started on trials three or four years ago. We’ve had a trial at the training ground and it’s invisible to see (the join) at ground level. That’s where we started from – if we couldn’t do that part, it would never be achieved here. A lot of development work has gone into it and it’s proved very successful.
Darren Baldwin, Tottenham’s head of playing services and estates, added:
All the trays are in the garage and we’re now working through the process of all the in-fills, all the different layers including drainage layers, FAVS (force air vacuum system) air system irrigation and undersoil heating, working through all those steps. This is the life support of the pitch. That’s where we’re at and it’s important to say that the actual green bit, the grass that everyone is keen to see, will be last, a week out from our first test event.
This is going to be the most unique stadium in the world and the most challenging with the amount of events we want to put in it. With that insight, we’ve appointed two Head Groundsmen at the stadium, a world-first. It’s now up to us to build the rest of the team.