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British football clubs 'in talks' about Spurs-style retractable pitches

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The firm behind Tottenham Hotspur’s retractable pitch is in talks with other football clubs, both in the UK and around the world, about installing similar pitches at their grounds, New Civil Engineer can reveal. 

Speaking exclusively to New Civil Engineer, SCX special projects director Danny Pickard said the company is looking to take what it has learned from the Tottenham project to new jobs close to home and around the world.   

The £1bn stadium in North London is the first in the UK to have a moving grass pitch, which can be retracted into a purpose-built garage located under the stadium carpark. Almost 2m beneath the grass pitch is an articial playing surface, scheduled to be used for American football matches. 

“We are working on a number of live enquires on other projects off the back of the Tottenham job,” Pickard said. “But I think people will want to see the success of the Tottenham stadium first, it will be a really interesting 12 to 24 months for SCX.”  

Pickard said that the company has had interest from within the UK, and that the next project could well be abroad, giving an excellent opportunity to export British engineering expertise, with all components for the Tottenham pitch sourced from within the UK. 

“The next one will likely be somewhere worldwide,” Pickard added. “We can design and engineer the project from our UK office in Yorkshire, and produce the more complex engineering components here in the UK such as the rails, and source local steel and concrete nearer the project.”  

“There are only a handful of companies capable of delivering a project like this,” he added.  

There are only a few proposed new stadiums in the UK, with Everton the only Premier League football club currently looking at a new home. The club has already purchased land on the Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool for a 52,000-62,000 seater stadium costing an estimated £500M.

Crystal Palace were also considering a new 40,000 seater redevelopment of their stadium, but instead will redevelop Selhurst Park after Croydon Council granted planning permison for a new 13,500-seater main stand.  

Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City are all either considering or have redevelopment or expansion works for their stadiums in the pipeline, and Pickard said the technology could be retro-fitted into existing systems.  

“The system could be adapted [for existing stadiums], in the sum of its parts you have rails, wheels, panels and hydraulics. You could fit the system anywhere, but the real challenge is fitting the civils work around the pitch to support the mechanical engineering. At Tottenham the foundations under the pitch have to hold the 3,000t of each of the three sections – that will always be a challenge.”  

Pickard also said that now the company had developed the technology to split and move the massive loads of a football pitch, the system could be adapted to support any number of arena floors or facilities.  

“If you wanted something else on there [the retractable panels] a race track or tennis courts, the engineering is all the same, you could build anything and everything on top,” he said. 

“This could become the blue-print for multi-use arenas.”  

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