The huge crane helping to create the new south stand at the Etihad Stadium for Manchester City FC is due to be dismantled this weekend as the pressure mounts to complete work in time for the new season.
The Italian-built crane was acquired by Laing O’Rourke in 2014 and is said by the contractor to be the biggest crane of its type in Europe and twice the size of the biggest in the UK, capable of lifting 20 tonnes 70 metres from the tower, or 60 tonnes when the end of the jib is only 10 metres from the tower.
The crane, and two smaller ones, have been used to lift off the old roof from the south stand and install the new roof, along with support structures outside the ground at the same time as a third tier of seating. The new roof uses harder materials than its predecessor – which softened acoustics as it dated from the Commonwealth Games where hearing the announcers was a priority. The harder material should increase the volume and add to the football crowd’s roar.
The £50m contract includes adding three rows of seats around the pitchside, where the ground level has been tapered down to create extra room behind the advertising hoardings. The new capacity including the additional 6,000 seats in the south stand and 1,500 around the pitch will take total capacity to just over 55000.
The groundsmen require six weeks and two days to grow the new grass on the pitch ready for the start of the 2015/16 Barclays Premier League season. This leaves Laing O’Rourke five weeks to take the old roof off and dismantle it on the pitch. The contractor employs around 160 people on site and has worked until 11pm on the giant crane on fine evenings. Several weeks were lost in the crane’s schedule due to disruption from high winds in the winter but time was made up elsewhere. The five weeks of work on the pitch will be carried out 24 hours a day.
Permission is in place for a similar extension on the north stand but the construction work, expected to also be awarded to Laing O’Rourke, has yet to be formally commissioned.
Work began in March 2014.