Retractable pitch makes Premier League debut for Spurs

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SCX has developed a world-first dividing retractable pitch for Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium. Sheffield firm SCX designed, engineered and installed the pitch, which had its debut at the game between Spurs and Crystal Palace on Wednesday, April 3.

The grass surface, which can be rolled back to reveal a bespoke NFL pitch below, is the result of the vision and expertise of SCX Special Projects, the bespoke engineering arm of the SCX group. This innovative system means the venue can be used for music concerts and other events in addition to regular football matches and NFL games.

SCX’s project director, Danny Pickard, said it was one of the company’s biggest projects, and one of its quickest in terms of delivery timescales.

“It has been a phenomenal success, equal to what we have achieved with the retractable roofs for Centre Court and No.1 Court for the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon, and within a very tight timescale,” he said.

“The Tottenham pitch went from being perceived as the highest-risk part of the project – with all the moving parts, the turf joins and an engineering concept that had not been tried before – to something neither we nor the client had to worry about. Everything was completed on time despite the huge scale of the project.”

The retractable real grass surface splits into three pitch-long steel trays. When the trays slide together, the join is invisible and imperceptible to the players. The trays, weighing more than 3,000 metric tons each, can be rolled under the new South Stand to reveal the NFL artificial surface in a process taking about 25 minutes.

The mechanical tests included the sideways movement of the side trays to meet the center tray, the defining feature that makes the pitch a world first. Teams of electrical, mechanical and design engineers from SCX Special Projects were on hand.

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James has been Editor of Stadia since 2018 having worked at magazines and websites around the world for the past 10 years covering everything from technology to motoring and more. He also edits Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International.

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