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Prospects of Wembley hosting FA cup final fade

News

TWO MONTHS of slower than expected progress constructing Wembley Stadium's roof have cut chances that the project will be ready for this year's FA Cup final.

Contractor Multiplex said that it was less confident that the project would be ready than it was a month ago.

Multiplex managing director Martin Tidd said that delays in stressing the stadium's roof steelwork were hampering progress with pitch and terrace construction. He said he was only 70% confident the stadium would be ready in time for the FA Cup Final on 13 May.

The original deadline for handing the stadium over to client Wembley National Stadium Ltd was 31 March. This was to leave time to hold a series of test events so that it could secure an operating licence.

Tidd said that the crunch point would come next week.

By then the stadium roof should be fully self supporting, allowing the temporary towers propping it to be dismantled.

This would permit the terracing and pitch area beneath them to be developed.

Steelworkers are this week stressing cables between the north roof steel structure and arch, and on the main trusses spanning between the north and south roofs (NCE 15/29 December 2005). Meanwhile the south stand roof was being depropped.

'The complexity of depropping from an engineering point of view is the most crucial time for us - we're looking for a 300% factor of safety, ' said Tidd.

He said that to get the pitch ready in time required 'operations to run like a Swiss watch, bringing the steel [temporary towers] down quickly and infilling the terraces'.

He added that it would take a month to dismantle the temporary towers and four weeks to install the pitch side steel and precast beam terraces.

Multiplex construction director Simon Cook added that the contractor's site presence had increased by 50 managers to 120 in the last six months, to help keep the project on programme.

Electricians and contractors are working on finishes 24 hours a day, while elsewhere contractors work seven days a week from 7am to 7pm. Multiplex managers are also working to hourly programmes and are allocated specific parts of the project to facilitate staged handover.

Tidd said that everyone on site was committed to meeting the 31 March deadline, but that poor subcontractor performance, design changes, industrial action and adverse weather could mean that it could be missed.

There was also no assurance yet whether public address systems and other electrical services could be commissioned and integrated in time.

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