The Evolution of Spurs

After almost two seasons of calling Wembley home, Tottenham Hotspur will finally play their first official game at their new ground on Wednesday 3rd April, hosting Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is jam-packed with endless aesthetic pleasures, from the revolutionary to the retro. The picturesque exterior to the sweeping curves of the stands, the stadium is a spectacular addition to the country's capital.

Planning permission was submitted in 2009 for the new stadium, but it wasn't until 2015 that the various hurdles were cleared and construction could finally begin. The opening fixture may have been delayed, but it's safe to say it'll be worth the wait!

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Well, where to begin?

Let's start with the largest statistic, the capacity. It was originally proposed that the stadium would hold 58,000, but the capacity gradually increased as the plans evolved. The final capacity was confirmed last year as 62,062 - a considerable increase on White Hart Lane's 36,284. The stadium will become the seventh biggest in the United Kingdom, and the second largest in the Premier League, behind Old Trafford.

Spurs fans will be able to watch their goal replays on the highest quality screens, the largest of any ground in Europe, which stretch to a dazzling 325 sqm. There are also 1,800 smaller high definition televisions around the interior.

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Now onto the playing surface (not just one pitch, but two!). The stadium will be the first of its kind in the United Kingdom to have two pitches inside the same bowl. The retractable, natural turf surface splits into three pitch-long steel trays. When the trays slide together, the join is invisible and imperceptible to the players.

The trays, weighing more than 3,000 tonnes each, can be rolled under the new South Stand to reveal the artificial surface in a process taking about 25 minutes. When the natural turf pitch is not required, it will live under the South Stand, for up to 10 days thanks to LED lighting, unique cooling and irrigation systems.

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Tottenham have agreed a 10-year partnership with the NFL, making the new stadium a dedicated home for the sport in the United Kingdom. Alongside this, Saracens Rugby Club have a five-year partnership with Tottenham to play their annual showpiece fixture at the new stadium.

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So, when did Harrod Sport get involved?

Harrod Sport and Tottenham Hotspur have a 25-year strong relationship, and with the obstacles surrounding Football, American Football and Rugby all being played at the stadium, it was important for Harrod Sport's involvement in the early stages. So just how much went on behind the scenes with the design of the second largest stadium in the Premier League?

In October 2017, Mark Smith, Design Manager at Harrod Sport and Sales Manager, John Robinson met with the design engineers, the principal pitch contractor and Tottenham Hotspur's Head of Playing Surfaces. The physical workings of Spurs state of the art, retractable pitch were viewed and discussed. The challenges faced as a company were extensive. Football and Rugby, both on a 0.5m deep framework pitch consisting of thousands of tonnes of steel framework! A challenge that Harrod Sport were excited and honoured to take head-on and deliver.

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Challenges faced and how we overcome them

The distance between the single tier and the goal line is just five metres - meaning fans will be closer to the action than at any other newly developed Premier League stadium. This resulted in the pitch having a dramatically angled run-off. Due to this, advice was needed on net support locations to meet Tottenham's net requirements with bespoke runback depths. The sockets were set into the steel framework and the run-off required specialist net supports to fit. Because of the angled run off, bespoke PVC foam wedges were also designed for the rear of the warm-up goals to sit on to create a level surface.

The NFL posed differing problems at both ends of the pitch. One was designed around the centre rail that the natural turf pitch rolls out over. To overcome this, the NFL foundation was designed exactingly to fit underneath the central rail with a removable hinge assembly attaching to the bottom section of the upright. The other end of the pitch proved just as challenging as this time the socket foundations needed to be mounted to a single capping beam located directly in front of the hydraulically raised goal line runoff.

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Special sockets were also manufactured for the rugby posts to fit into pre-formed sleeves under the artificial pitch. For the natural turf pitch, the rugby post foundation needed to be mounted directly to the large metal structure making up the pitch tray and required bolt-down hinge adaptors and specialist turf trays.

To date, Harrod Sport has supplied their unique Stadium Pro Football Goals, NFL Posts, Millennium Rugby Posts, Turf Trays, Crowd Protection Ball Stop Systems, NFL & Rugby Lifting Devices, Goal Post Storage Trolleys, NFL & Rugby Post Protectors, Corner Poles, and Bespoke PVC Foam Wedges.

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The club have without a doubt created one of the finest stadiums in the world for spectators and visitors, and in turn delivered a major new landmark for Tottenham and London. The extraordinary design will reset parameters surrounding what is achievable with multi-sport venues. Harrod Sport are honoured to have been involved in this amazing project and look forward to the opening game with excitement and pride.

Did you know that Harrod Sport are the suppliers of the bespoke Stadium Pro Football Goals to prestigious stadiums across the world? Learn more about Harrod Sport here.

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