Cranes got game

7 October 2020


Cranes of different capacities and types have been deployed for stadium projects around the world over the past year. Sotiris Kanaris reports.

Sports clubs have long understood the significance of ehancing the fan experience at their stadiums. In recent years, the improved home viewing options have become a tough competitor to the traditional stadium attendance.

In order to avoid a potential drop in attendance—which would mean a reduction of revenue—and make their offering more attractive, some clubs are stepping up their game by investing in facilities. Some are improving or expanding their existing stadiums, while others choose to build new ones.

The designs have become more elaborate adding to the uniqueness of each stadium and sometimes the challenge of construction. Roofs in particular are often very heavy and require special handling for their assembly, lifting and installation.

In the beginning of the year, a 2,300t (2535USt) Manitowoc 31000 lattice boom crawler crane was used for the installation of trusses for the extensive retractable roof of the new Globe Life Park stadium in Arlington, Texas, USA. The stadium is the home of professional baseball team Texas Rangers.

The project involved the lifting and positioning of 33 trusses, weighing between 900,000lbs to 1,500,000lbs (408t–680t).

Enerpac SyncHoist systems were used for the installations; a crane product for below-the-hook positioning of heavy loads that require precision placement. Enerpac SyncHoist 250USt cylinders with 20in stroke, internal stroke sensor and pressure transducers were deployed. Custom Enerpac ZU4-series pumps were operated by a wireless control pendant while stroke and load were monitored via a touchscreen tablet.

“By using the Enerpac SyncHoist system, only one crane was necessary for the roof truss pick plan throughout the project. The steel contractor was able to wirelessly control each roof truss 200ft in the air and precisely position it down to millimetres,” said Enerpac.

A large lattice boom crawler crane was used for another stadium project this year. In February and March, a 650t Demag CC 3800-1 performed lifts for the construction of a new stand at the Saint-Symphorien Stadium in Metz, France.

This stadium is home to League 1 football team FC Metz and welcomes more than 25,000 fans at full capacity. Construction companies Demathieu Bard and Costantini were involved in the construction of the stadium’s new south stand. They entrusted Martifer with the manufacture of enormous steel roof structures, weighing up to 242t. Sarens was tasked with the installation of these structures and selected its Demag CC 3800-1 for the job.

Apart from the extensive planning for the lifts, this project demanded a complex ground preparation. The plan was for the heavy lattice boom crawler to be set up at the edge of the stadium, so the ground in that area had to be ready to withstand the weight of the crane and the load.

“With two layers (7m+5m) of 20cm-thick Bongossi timber, we provided sufficient support for the crane,” said Demathieu Bard site manager Julien Cavelius. The ground preparation required the use of 18 truck transports for the necessary material. 430 wooden mats were laid out.

The crane was transported via 60 trucks from another project site, the Gundersheim wind farm in Germany.

During assembly, ground preparations by other crews were still ongoing and companies were busy dismantling two tower cranes already on site. “We loaded and offloaded 15 trucks per day, which is very fast,” said Bram Van Overwalle, project manager lattice boom crawlers at Sarens. “Because there were a lot of other activities, like ground preparations and tower crane disassembly, it was a hectic job site.”

Sarens used two assist cranes to assemble the CC3800-1. The Sarens team set up the crane in SWSL configuration with 60m main boom, 36m Superlift mast and a 24m-long luffing jib for the demanding lifts. There were 215t of counterweight on the superstructure and 325t Superlift counterweight.

With the crane ready for lifting, Sarens proceeded to lift the four big steel roof structures, each with a 32m radius. They were picked up, rotated 180°, lifted to the correct height, driven by the crawler crane and then installed; all on a very narrow job site. Sarens’s crew also performed some smaller lifts while on site.

The very high wind speeds on site posed a challenge to the crew. These conditions required careful monitoring and follow-up, as a fixed six-eight hour window was required for the installation of each steel structure.

Dismantling

In August 2019, the roof of the AZ Alkmaar football stadium in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, collapsed due to strong winds. Mammoet joined forces with demolition company C.A. De Groot to remove the collapsed part and dismantle the rest of the roof.

A few weeks after the incident, Mammoet had already deployed multiple mobile tower cranes for the collapsed part removal.

In October 2019, the next phase of the project started, which involved the dismantling of the remaining parts of the roof. For this job, Mammoet used Spierings 1265- AT6 and SK 597-AT4 mobile tower cranes. A number of all terrain cranes—including a Tadano ATF 220G-5, a Grove GMK 5130-2 and a Liebherr LTM 1100—as well as mobile tower cranes were used for the dismantling and replacing of two light poles and two scoreboards.

After AZ Alkmaar decided to replace the roof with one of different design, the dismantling continued in 2020 for the removal of the remaining steel structure, all light poles and scoreboards. A Liebherr LTM 1450-8.1, a Tadano ATF 220G-5, a Grove GMK 5130-2 and a mobile tower crane were used for the dismantling of the four light poles.

All disassembly and demolition work has been completed. The contractor is currently working on the foundations and pouring concrete.

The steel constructor has awarded Mammoet the contract for the construction of the steelwork for the new roof. Spierings SK1265-AT6 and Spierings SK597-AT4 cranes will work for several weeks for the lighter construction around the stadium. A Grove GMK 5130-2 and Grove GMK 3060 all terrain crane will be used to assemble the large arch that later will be positioned over the stadium.

When completed the arch will weigh 638t. In the end of 2020, two 600t Liebherr LR 1600/2 crawler cranes will be deployed to lift it in tandem and install it.

Mammoet recently also provided a lifting solution to help facilitate the demolition of a retired hockey arena in the US.

The Joe Louis Arena, situated in the centre of downtown Detroit, Michigan, USA, stood in the way of the development of a section of land on the Detroit River at the border of the USA and Canada.

‘The Joe’, as it is affectionately referred to by locals, opened in 1979 and hosted numerous Detroit Red Wings hockey games, sporting events and concerts before holding its final event in July 2017. The arena that housed more than 20,000 spectators per event is named after a former heavyweight champion boxer, Joe Louis, who grew up in Detroit.

Mammoet was contracted to lower the main roof truss. Due to the arena’s proximity to a neighbouring convention centre and a large underground sewer main which ran beneath the truss, the demolition required a traditional dismantling method rather than implosion.

Mammoet’s client, Adamo Group, was challenged with the removal of the roof truss structure and the original approach was to dismantle the truss at height, beam by beam.

However, Mammoet proposed lowering the entire roof truss structure in a single piece where it could be more easily accessed for further dismantling.

This method would require a coordinated effort by Mammoet’s expert personnel and specialised equipment working alongside Adamo’s demolition team to bring down the truss within a narrow window of acceptable weather conditions.

The main roof truss, which contained the arena’s penthouse, was not only the largest component to be removed but also the last.

The roof truss itself was 134m (440ft) long and consisted of steel construction with concrete decking weighing 2,250t (2,480USt).

To lower the truss without jeopardising the existing nearby infrastructure, Mammoet proposed placing large beams underneath the truss to lift the structure from its existing supports and lowering the piece onto supports using strand jacks.

Due to the lack of detailed information about the truss and its weight, a lifting procedure was developed with input from field supervisors and engineering to lift the truss free while still allowing the operation to be safely aborted should the weight of the truss be greater than that originally estimated. On the day of the lowering, the Mammoet team lifted the truss to verify its weight and, once deemed acceptable, the client removed the ends of the truss to provide clearance to lower it past the existing supports.

The starting height of the roof was 25m (85ft) and Mammoet safely lowered it to 6m (20ft) so that the client’s equipment was able to reach the truss to cut it into smaller, more manageable, pieces.

Mammoet utilised eight strand jacks for lowering and two pairs of 2.4m (8ft) tall girders, braced together, to support the roof. With so many jacks connected to one rigid piece, the team had to carefully monitor the truss during lowering to ensure that both the truss and the lifting equipment were loaded as designed.

Within four hours of the ends being cut free, Mammoet’s team of six had successfully completed the lowering of the truss and set it on the client’s shoring piles.

“During both the planning phase of the project and the execution, both parties worked together to ensure that all work needed to lower the roof truss could be accomplished in minimal time and without any compromises to the safety of those involved. Ultimately, the team effort to lower the truss in a single piece proved to be a safer method than the beam by beam demolition, while providing more control during execution,” said Mammoet.

Power of Tower

The lifting requirements for some parts of stadium construction or expansion projects are better served by tower cranes.

Spanish tower crane manufacturer Comansa has seen its cranes play an integral part in the construction of major stadiums around the world, including: the Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho (Maracanã) in Brazil, the Real Betis and Metropolitano stadiums in Spain, the Perth Stadium in Australia, the Place Bell in Canada, Faurot Field in the US and many others.

The Navarre-headquartered manufacturer is now seeing its cranes performing lifts at a local stadium, as C.A Osasuna—playing in the first division of the Spanish football league—is refurbishing its stadium.

Comansa tower cranes were erected in October 2019 and everyone is working hard for the project to be completed by October this year, as on the 20th of the month the club will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The cranes were painted purple, in the colours of the contractor VDR.

Two Comansa LC5211 and two LC5013 flat tops were chosen to perform lifts for the construction of the stadium. There are two other Comansa flat tops working on the surroundings.

In London, UK, a Wolff 500 B tower crane is currently being used for the ‘One Oval Square Development’ project at the Kia Oval cricket grounds, home ground of the Surrey County Cricket Club since it opened in 1845.

The project involves the construction of a new three-tier stand, which will raise the capacity to nearly 28,000. It also includes the construction of buildings linked to the new stand, with facilities for conference, events and hospitality.

The Wolff 500 B is on hire from Wolffkran Ltd (the UK sales, rental and service subsidiary of Wolffkran, formerly known as HTC Wolffkran) by the contractor Buckingham Group.

The luffing jib tower crane, with maximum load capacity of 45t, was erected in February and is contracted for 45 weeks.

As to the reasons behind the choice of this crane, Wolffkran said there was not enough room to use a mobile crane on the site as the available area is almost completely used for the new-build.

The luffing jib tower crane is on 48.4m tower on foundation anchors at ground level. It is fitted with a 60m jib and has a maximum lifting capacity of 30t from 6m to 19m, and 6t up to a 60m radius.

The Wolff 500 B is being used to lift heavy steel components for the three-tier stand. There are also precast concrete panels (up to 12t) to fit close to the crane, for which they are using a counter balance beam, and lighter panels on the outside of the building.

Enerpac SyncHoist systems were used for the installation of trusses for the retractable roof of the new Globe Life Park stadium in Arlington, Texas, USA.
Sarens used a Demag CC 3800-1 for the installation of steel structures for the roof of the new south stand at the FC Metz stadium in France.
Sarens used a Demag CC 3800-1 for the installation of steel structures for the roof of the new south stand at the FC Metz stadium in France.
Mammoet deployed mobile tower cranes and all terrain cranes to dismantle parts of the roof of the AZ Alkmaar stadium in the Netherlands.
Mammoet deployed mobile tower cranes and all terrain cranes to dismantle parts of the roof of the AZ Alkmaar stadium in the Netherlands.
For the AZ Alkmaar project, mobile tower cranes were used for the removal of the collapsed roof part as well as the dismantling of the remaining parts of the roof.
Mammoet used strand jacks to lower the main roof truss of the retired Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Mammoet used strand jacks to lower the main roof truss of the retired Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, USA.
In London, UK, a Wolff 500 B tower crane is currently being used for the ‘One Oval Square Development’ project at the Kia Oval cricket grounds.
The Wolff 500 B is being used to lift heavy steel components for the three-tier stand.