London Stadium hosts four sport and music events in packed summer schedule
London Stadium has released dramatic time lapse footage showing the transformation of the venue for four different sport and music events in just three months, cementing its reputation as one the world’s greatest multi-use stadiums.
Within 60 minutes of the final whistle at West Ham’s last home game against Southampton on 4 May, work began to prepare the venue for 73,000 fans who’d bought tickets for Muse’s Simulation Theory concert on 1 June.
With the largest standing area of any UK concert venue, as well as excellent acoustics, London Stadium is widely regarded by bands and promoters as one of the best rock and pop venues. Following the band’s critically acclaimed performance featuring a state-of-the-art stage set and incredible visual effects, work began on the next of the summer’s events – the first Major League Baseball games to be played in Europe.
In just 23 days, the venue was transformed into a ballpark by 110 expert workers brought in from around the world. Clay for the pitchers’ mound and 345 tonnes of soil for the infield were shipped in from the USA. 141,900 square feet of artificial turf was brought in from France and the perimeter fencing came from Canada, creating the stage for the world’s best-known baseball teams – the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
Watched by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, plus 59,657 other fans the first day’s game was the best attended MLB match ever played on international soil and the best attended MLB game since 2003.
The weekend’s sell-out crowds enjoyed the two-day spectacular consuming more than 80,000 pints of beer, 10,000 hot dogs (including 2,500 2-foot long Boomstick dogs) and 2,600 bags of monkey nuts.
As the last baseball fan left the stadium work began immediately to prepare for the Müller Anniversary Games. The Diamond League athletics meet scheduled for 20 and 21 July is set to showcase the world’s best track and field athletes.
Within four days all baseball overlay had been removed. The armour-deck floor protecting the athletics track and field of play was lifted and a new grass pitch was sown, alongside the installation of runways and pits for long-jump, triple-jump and high jump.
The two-day international athletics meet will be the best attended athletics event in Europe this summer with an anticipated audience of 50,000. More than 2,500 people will also take part in UKA’s Festival of Sport including 530 schoolchildren from 75 local schools as part of the Borough Connect School relays.
The Stadium will then finish its annual transformation cycle with a ten-day turn round to prepare for West Ham United’s friendly against Athletic Bilbao on 3 August and the first home-match of the 2019/20 Premier League season against Manchester City the following weekend.
Graham Gilmore, Chief Executive Officer of London Stadium, said:
There is no other venue in the world that could stage Premier League football, Major League Baseball and international athletics, as well as a major concert, in less than three months.
I am so proud of the team who have pulled off an astonishing feat in bringing and delivering a summer series of world-class events to London and welcoming some 250,000 fans through the doors.
There is no down-time at London Stadium, just a drive to continue bringing global events to the very best multi-use stadium in the country.
Seat move costs for the 2019 summer events programme will be in the region of GB£5.5m. This includes £1.9m for reconfiguring seats for Major League Baseball. The London Series games generated a surplus for the London Stadium, as well as contributing millions of pounds to the wider London economy.
Around a third of the spectators at the baseball games came from overseas, generating millions of pounds for London’s hotel, restaurant and retail industries. We can’t wait for next summer’s matches between the Cardinals and the Cubs, and are in advanced talks with MLB about a new contract from 2021 onwards.
Before then, we look forward to another successful season with West Ham United in one of the largest stadiums in the Premier League.
The time lapse footage can be viewed here.
UK construction firm uses problem solving to help transform London Stadium for Major League Baseball
A London construction firm that specialises in complex and bespoke builds was brought in to help transform West Ham’s London Stadium into a Major League Baseball park.
Project 7’s track record of finding solutions to tricky construction problems came into play as the biggest multi-sport venue in Europe was turned into a setting fit to host the legendary Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees teams.
The company was appointed as a trade contractor to the principal contractor Gardiner and Theobold and took responsibility for many of the unusual problems that were thrown up changing the stadium from its football mode to become a baseball park.
One of the key requirements for Project 7 was ensuring that the existing Olympic running track, stadium seating and drainage was not damaged by the infrastructure required by MLB’s first ever event in Europe. At the same time the specialist construction firm had to make sure that its solutions were up to MLB’s high standards.
Ty Robinson, Managing Director of Project 7, said:
We love coming up with solutions to challenging problems. One major problem was how to securely erect the padded fences without damaging the football pitch or the multi-million pound running track but still ensuring they were able to safely take the impact of the players, who are huge, strong athletes. In the US ball parks, these fences would be secured deep into the ground where they sit – not an option for London Stadium.
Our solution was to create scaffolding that was independently secured with large, heavy concrete blocks that didn’t damage the surface below but could be fitted with the padded fencing and take a hit from one of the baseball guys without moving.
Another problem to solve was how to install a blackout screen which sits behind the pitcher’s arm to allow the batters to see the white ball clearly. That area is known as the “Batters Eye” and is crucial for the batters to identify the balls coming at them at varying speeds up to 100mph.
With all the seating in the way we needed something that would sit at an angle but wouldn’t create any glare or reflection. In the end, black serge wool drapes were used, which is traditionally used on film and TVsets to help with blackout and acoustics. We stretched this across timber panels secured on a scaffolding frame within the seats, which remained hidden from view and undamaged.
Project 7 has built up a good reputation for complex logistical projects under very tight timescales and has previously transformed the London Stadium into a music venue to host top artists; rearranging the seating within 72 hours to successfully meet incredibly tight deadlines.
It also hit the headlines earlier this year for its specialist work on revamping London’s Hippodrome Casino to allow the venue to host Channing Tatum’s hit dance show, Magic Mike Live. This major project had to be carried out without disturbing the casino’s clients who have access to the venue 24 hours a day.
The ability to work to tight deadlines and oversee logistics was key to the MLB project as the transformation had to be completed within three weeks and derigged in only 5 days working shift patterns 24/7. Project 7 took on responsibility for site logistics which included coordinating the movement of more than 150 truck movements a day in the stadium bowl.
The company also built all the broadcast and commentary positions for the TV and radio broadcasters, fit-out and installed the 80ft wide team dug outs, fit out the bullpens where the pitchers warm up, and erect the 60ft tall yellow fins that are called foul poles and weigh more than two tons each.
We obviously have experience of working in a stadium, but this is the first time we have helped to help create a baseball park.
MLB invited us to visit Monterey in Mexico to watch their International Game there between the Cincinnati Reds and the St Louis Cardinals to help with the huge learning curve to ensure that the Mitel London Series was built and delivered in Major League baseball style. It was a great experience and MLB were excellent clients to work with.
We are already looking at lessons learned from this event to see how we can improve the delivery when the series returns to the London Stadium next year and hosts the Chicago Cubs and St Louis Cardinals.
Watch a finished stadium pano cam wiz around the transformed venue online at:
About Queen Elizabeth Park
Spread across 560 acres of stunning parklands, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is home to beautifully landscaped gardens, historic waterways, famous sporting venues, a vibrant arts and events programme and the ArcelorMittal Orbit visitor attraction.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park opened in April 2014 following the 18 month transformation programme of the London 2012 Olympic Park. It is now home to six former Olympic and Paralympic venues, the Copper Box Arena, Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Lee Valley VeloPark, London Aquatics Centre and London Stadium where visitors can take part in sport, enjoy watching world-class athletes compete or experience concerts or arts and culture events.
The London Legacy Development Corporation promotes and delivers physical, social, economic and environmental regeneration in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the surrounding area by maximising the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Images, courtesy: LLDC / London Stadium / MLB
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