Tottenham Hotspur installs the first sections of its innovative playing surface

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When Tottenham Hotspur FC finally opens the doors to its new state-of-the-art stadium it will boast a world first in pitch technology: a retractable grass surface sitting directly on top of an artificial surface.

With two surfaces housed within the same venue innovative technology will allow the English Premier League soccer club to not only host matches on real turf but also NFL games, concerts and events on a more hard-wearing artificial pitch.

The logistics of this world first require the playing surface to divide into three sections and retract under the stadium’s South Stand to reveal the surface underneath. The process is said to take around 25 minutes, and once the grass pitch is returned the joins are invisible and will have no effect on the quality of the matchday surface.

The innovation is made possible thanks to the playing surface placed in three pitch-long trays, each made up of 33 smaller trays, with 99 in total over the entire playing area. The three trays, each weighing more than 3,000 tonnes, have been designed, built and installed by engineering specialists SCX, who is now delivering the first batch to be installed.

The trays, which have been built in South Yorkshire in the north of England, are being transported to London where the first will be lifted into place via crane. The west section of the surface will be installed first, followed by the east and finally the center.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium turf

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium turf installation

“This is a massive and complicated moving structure. We have a proven track record in solving bespoke problems that involve moving and lifting huge structures at venues. All the mechanical and control system engineering skills are in-house and genuinely world class,” says SCX managing director Simon Eastwood.

SCX is no stranger to the complexities of ambitious engineering following work on projects including the retractable roof over Centre Court and No.1 Court at tennis venue Wimbledon to allow for matches to continue play during adverse weather.

The Populous-designed Tottenham Hotspur stadium was first announced in 2015 and is scheduled to open in August 2018 at an approximate cost of more than £800m (US$1.1bn). Capacity for 61,559 spectators was originally planned, although this could increase to 62,000 should approval be allowed for a recent seating increase application be granted.

Contractors such as SCX are working hard to deliver the project on time for the 2018 EPL season, and on October 14, 2018, NFL fans will witness the parting of the pitch as it plays host to the Oakland Raiders versus the Seattle Seahawks.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium turf

January 31, 2018

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As editor of four magazines at UKi Media & Events James brings over a decade of writing about, and obsessing over, technology and cars to Automotive Interiors World, Stadia, Winter Sports Technology International and Auditoria. Responsible for commissioning, writing and editing each issue he’s covered the best (and worst) from around the industry on a continual search to feature the latest innovation or talking point on the next cover.

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