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Portuguese on the ball

Ten Portuguese football stadia will figure heavily on a TV screen near you over the next month as the Euro 2004 football championships kick off. Andrew Bolton checks them out.

Portugal's local authorities, government and football clubs have spent hundreds of millions of pounds getting 10 stadia ready for this month's Euro 2004 football championships, which get under way in Porto on Saturday evening.

The 10 are a mix of newly built or extensively refurbished stadia, designed to comply with the latest crowd safety guidelines and rigorous seismic codes. Legacy use is a key theme, with several designed also to accommodate rock concerts and other nonsporting events. Municipal stadia are often incorporated within the town's local sports centre.

While the Greeks are right up against the deadline for delivering Olympic Games structures, the Portuguese managed to get their stadium programme completed by the end of last year, allowing plenty of time for warm up events.

All the stadia have at least one football club as a tenant or owner, ensuring the investment in facilities is recouped during the football season, at least.

Estadio da Luz, Lisbon The £75M centrepiece Stadium of Light, which will host the final and two of England's first round matches, is a brand new 65,500 capacity structure, owned by Portuguese football giant Benfica.

It replaced the ageing, original Stadium of Light, built piecemeal between the 1960s and 1980s.

This had to be demolished because concrete structures were suffering from alkalai silica reaction and the stadium itself failed to meet modern safety standards for crowd control.

British structural engineers at consultant Sinclair Knight Merz were instrumental in executing designs by architect HOK Sport Venue Event, which include a spectacular polycarbonate and aluminium clad roof. This appears to float above the stands, allowing light to filter through to the pitch.

The four eye shaped roof sections are supported by four huge 200m span 2m diameter tubular steel bowstring arches mounted on four, 45m tall cantilevered 'super columns' measuring 9m by 4.5m. Steel fore and back stays attached to the arches help the roof sections resist wind induced uplift forces, while the outer edge of the roof is given extra stability by slender columns lined up with the stays.

The columns and superstructure are designed to resist a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, like the one which devastated Lisbon in 1755.

As a result the roof structure is independent of the rest of the stadium, which is itself split into eight sections separated by movement joints.

The pad foundations include concrete recycled from the old Benfica stadium.

Contractor Somague started work on the stadium in September 2001 and completed it last October.


lFrance v England, 13 June lRussia v Portugal, 16 June lCroatia v England 21 June lQuarter final, 24 June lFinal, 4 July Estadio Jose Alvalade, Lisbon Unlike the neighbouring Stadium of Light, the 52,000 capacity Jose Alvalade has a cantilevered roof supported by four huge steel towers at each corner. The cantilever action keeps the stands free of view-obstructing columns, giving spectators a clear view of the pitch. This newly built stadium has been acoustically modelled to give it a legacy use for music events.

Matches lSweden v Bulgaria 14 June lSpain v Portugal, 20 June lGermany v Czech Republic, 23 June lQuarter final, 25 June lSemi final 30 June Estadio do Dragao, Porto This new 52,000 capacity stadium has a transparent roof supported at each end by pairs of hefty concrete columns. Two massive arched steel trusses carry the roof above the side stands, wrapping it around the vertical curve of the undulating stadium bowl's outer edges. The new stadium is part of a sporting complex and property development, which will include shops, homes and a multi-purpose indoor venue.

Matches lPortugal v Greece, 12 June lGermany v Netherlands, 15 June lQuarter final, 27 June lSemi final, 1 July Estadio Algarve, Faro Sustainability and legacy use are unlikely to be the first thoughts in viewers' minds as they watch Spain play Russia on June 12 in the first Euro 2004 game to be held at the £22.6M, 30,305 seat Estadio Algarve. But these were key factors influencing designs produced by consultant Atkins and architect HOK Sport Venue Event.

The stands in the exposed concrete structures use site-won aggregate for the concrete, which enabled contractor Somargue to limit construction traffic on local roads and keep transport costs down.

This made up for the fact that the limestone ground proved difficult to work in, as it was riddled with voids, making foundation work tricky.

Use of exposed concrete and designed-in shading helped the designers exploit the substructure's high thermal mass to reduce the need for air conditioning in areas like dressing rooms and executive boxes.

The stadium is also equipped with huge cisterns which collect rain water from the cable stayed tensile fabric roof to support pitch irrigation and sewerage systems.

For legacy use, the two stands behind the goals are demountable.

Initially they will be used alongside a neighbouring athletics track, although they can be moved off site to wherever they are needed.

One of the demountable stands can also be replaced by a stage for use in outdoor rock and operatic concerts The stadium is being equipped with top of the range accommodation and training facilities so it can be used by foreign football teams looking to give their players a mid season break in the sun.

Matches lSpain v Russia, 12 June lRussia v Greece, 20 June lQuarter final, 26 June Estadio Municipal de Aveiro The 30,000 capacity Aveiro stadium includes three underground levels, making the whole structure equal to the height of a 10 storey building. Like the Stade de France in Paris, it has a disc shaped roof supported on masts lining the perimeter of the stands. The stadium was built to replace local team SC-Beira Mar's 14,000 capacity Mario Duarte stadium, which was becoming too small for its tenant.

Matches lCzech Republic v Latvia, 15 June lNetherlands v Czech Republic, 19 June Estadio Municipal de Braga All 30,000 spectators at Braga will sit in steeply raked stands along the sides of the pitch. The stadium site has been carved into the side of a rocky hill and each end is enclosed by undeveloped hillside. This will make for an unusual atmosphere and allow goalkeepers and corner kick takers to go about their business without the usual heckling from opposing supporters.

Matches lBulgaria v Denmark, 18 June lNetherlands v Latvia, 23 June Estadio Cidade de Coimbra A new tier was added to Coimbra's existing 15,000 seater stadium to double the capacity for Euro 2004. The stadium has also been spruced up with glass cladding to give it a more modern feel.

Redevelopment by the local council included construction of a sports centre and entertainment complex to ensure the site has a sustainable use after the tournament.

Matches lEngland v Switzerland, 17 June lSwitzerland v France, 21 June Estadio Dom Afonso Henriques, Guimaraes All four stands of the existing stadium have been remodelled and expanded to boost stadium capacity to 30,000.

The challenge for designers was to increase the size of the stadium without imposing it on the surrounding area. The stadium is at the heart of Guimares' ancient city centre, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.

Matches lDenmark v Italy, 14 June lItaly v Bulgaria, 22 June Estadio Dr Magalhaes Pessoa, Leiria Contractors have remodelled the city's 11,000 capacity stadium to increase it to 30,000.

This meant demolishing three of the four stands and building new ones from scratch.

Spectators will be sheltered by an undulating roof running around three sides of the structure, supported by 12 masts. As with many of the other Euro 2004 stadia, it is part of the city's main sports centre.

Matches lSwitzerland v Croatia, 13 June lCroatia v France, 17 June Estadio do Bessa Seculo XXI, Porto Redevelopment of the 30,000 capacity stadium's stands took place between 1998 and 2003, with three stands remaining open at any one time so local team Boa Vista could continue using it. The finished stadium has four tightly enclosed stands with large concrete cores at each corner providing support for the stands and roof.

Matches lGreece v Spain, 16 June lLatvia v Germany 19 June lDenmark v Sweden, 22 June

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