Video: watch how Spurs' retractable pitch works

24 May 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

Tottenham Hotspur has successfully tested a ground-breaking retractable football pitch at its new £850m stadium in London.

Sheffield-based engineering firm SCX has designed, engineered and built the pitch, which is made up of three huge trays, each made up of 33 smaller trays of turf.

The west and centre sections of the pitch have now been tested, with the east section due to be tested "in the near future".

Once complete, all three sections will slide out simultaneously in around 25 minutes. The west and east sections will move laterally to connect with the centre to create a seamless grass surface.

Joins are reportedly imperceptible to players.

To see how the pitch works, watch the video below:

Aside from two of the pitch sections, the hydraulic sides were also tested over the weekend. Weighing 480 tonnes, the sites lift once the three pitch trays have connected in order to raise the touchlines so they are at the same level as the grass playing surface.

Nick Cooper, head of moving structures on the project said: "The weekend represented the first time we’ve moved the pitch trays out. To do that, we had to fix up the generators, the electrics, SCX brought down their design and mechanical engineers just in case anything happened and what I can report is that it worked first time exactly how we wanted it to work, which is great news.

"The hydraulic sides are enormous, a 120-metre truss that runs the full length of the pitch and it all moves up and raises together. In one side, there are eight moving bridges all operating concurrently. That is a tremendous achievement by the electrical engineers. The sides weigh 480 tonnes, so we’re lifting 480 tonnes up in a matter of minutes – and it all works beautifully."

Danny Pickard, senior project manager, SCX said: "It’s the first time the moving pitch as a completed unit has been slid out and moved together. The weekend was all about the first movement from the garage area where we’ve assembled the pitch trays to bring them out into the bowl to see how smoothly it ran, to see how well the edges of the trays lined up and to also interface with the hydraulic pitch sides, so a test of what we’d call the big picture, how all the big pieces fit together.

"It took a lot of work by a lot of people to get it there, lots of late nights but the weekend went brilliantly. We’d done a lot of testing beforehand of all the smaller pieces but the size and scale of the overall project…there is a lot of weight, mechanisms, manufacturing tolerances and installation tolerances, so to have tested all that and for it all to have fitted together first time was a great achievement for everyone who has put it together. It was a massive milestone completed for us."

The project to build the 62,000-seater stadium is being led by main contractor Mace.

The stadium will also feature two huge LED displays each measuring 325 sq m, making them the largest screens in any stadium in western Europe.

The project is due for completion in time for Tottenham's first home game of the new football season later this year.


Superb, hope it all works smoothly in real practice conditions. Engineers should be commended.

Adam Sharp, 25 May 2018

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