Thorburn Colquhoun

Leicester City Football Club

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British football clubs have been making big changes. The Hillsborough disaster, in which.many fans died, has had far reaching effects on all English clubs. They have been forced to make changes to improve the safety of their grounds, including a move away standing terraces to all seater stadia.

Some clubs have adapted their exist-ing stands. Others have taken the opportunity to demolish old stands and replace them with totally new and greatly improved facilities. At Leicester City the very short time allowed during the closed season to demolish the old stand, built in 1921, and construct a new one favoured structural steel as the building medium. Hot dip galvanizing was the corrosion protection system chosen for the steelwork as it gives long term cost benefits through low maintenance costs.

A new stand

The decision to replace the main stand was a brave one because at £4.6M it was considerably more expensive than upgrading the existing 70 year old stand. Also, the short time between the end of one season and the start of the next meant that if all the building programme slipped at all, seating and hence revenue would be severely curtailed.

By slinging the roof cladding under the roof trusses, the underneath of the roof is unobstructed. This means that spectators have a better view, birds cannot roost above them and at the same time it provides a robust platform to allow maintenance access to the roof structure and roof mounted services.

However, there were also considerable benefits to be gained by total replacement. The facilities for spectators, players and staff could be brought into the 1990’s. The spectators of the 90’s are much more demanding than their counterparts 70 years ago. Other considerations too, have changed during that time.

Provision of hospitality suites for local companies to entertain VIP’s was not important in 1921, nor was the concept of making the facilities pay their way for more than just one or two days per week. All these changes could be in the main truss, weighing 140t, was made up of six sections, the longest of which measures 19.1 m. All the steelwork was hot dip galvanized. It was assembled on site and lifted into place in one working day using two 500t mobile cranes. All external and exposed steelwork was also hot dip galvanized although a high specification paint system had originally been considered.

However, galvanizing was competitive on an initial cost basis and had tremendous benefits in the long term due to its minimal maintenance requirements.

On the second floor is the upper concourse which houses the toilets and snack bars for the upper seating deck and is designed to accommodate up to 400 people for a conference.

Tight schedule

The demolition of the old stand commenced in May 1993. This was followed by piling, work on foundations, structural steelwork, precast concrete seating decks, roof and wall cladding, access stairs, concourse deck and seating all in time to allow the occupation of the upper deck and 5,000 seats by 30 September 1993. The remaining 4,000 seats in the lower deck were handed over on 11 October 1993 and the executive facilities on 24 December 1993. All dates were to the agreed programme.

The redevelopment of the main stand at Leicester City Football Club is an impressive example of the modern trend to design stands for multipurpose use. The club is to be congratulated for its commitment in creating a facility which will be enjoyed not only by the fans but also by the community as a whole and which uses galvanized steel to ensure long life.

Images © Galvanizers Association
Architects: ADW
Engineers: Thorburn Colquhoun
Design & Build Contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine

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