Thomas Lane assesses the chances of a penalty shoot-out
When you first walk into Wembley Stadium it looks great, and the impression of efficient progress towards timely completion is reinforced by its project director, Ashley Muldoon of Multiplex.
"It's probably 80% to 85% complete depending on the area you're in," he says. "In some areas all you have to do is take the protective coatings off and give it a clean."
The VIP reception area on the ground floor does indeed look almost finished. At the top of the escalator the public concourses have, as Muldoon says, a protective layer over the carpets.
A restaurant, the FA Bistro, is finished, and the Queen Suite is almost there apart from its carpet. The most complete experience is found in a corporate box, as all the protective coatings have been removed.
Step outside and you get a rude shock. There is a lot to do if Multiplex is going to hand over the stadium to its client, Wembley National Stadium Limited on 31 March.
For a start, the steelwork forming the roof remains propped up by temporary supports at the edges of the pitch. Until these are moved out of the way the lower tier of seating cannot be finished. Elsewhere about half of the 90,000 seats are in. The pitch area is gravel, with not a blade of grass.
Multiplex is doing what it can to ensure the workers stay on board, having frequent meetings with specialists and unions.
We are trying to engender pride in working on what is the national stadium
Martin Tidd, the managing director of Multiplex, is also appealing to national pride. "We are trying to engender some pride in that they are working on the national stadium which will be the finest in the world," he says.
"I think it's having a positive response."
The other big unknown is the roof. The temporary works supporting the main trusses cannot be removed until load-bearing cables have been installed and tensioned.
The roof cladding needs finishing and the retractable roof sections are half done. The biggest threat to this is the wind. Tidd says work on the roof has to stop when wind speeds exceed seven knots. Given this is no more than a gentle breeze, it is bound to stop work at some point.
Finally there is the commissioning and testing of services including fire, security and air-conditioning systems. These are particularly complex at Wembley, and Multiplex needs the approval of a whole host of organisations, including WNSL, the FA and building control. Without this the stadium will not get its safety certificate and there will be no FA Cup Final at Wembley on 13 May.
In three weeks' time the world will know whether Multiplex can do it. "We think it is too early to say whether the final will be here or at Cardiff," says Tidd. "We will be able to assess this in three weeks."
What’s left to be done?
- Roof Temporary works to north roof have to be removed, cables have to be installed and tensioned at the north and south roof trusses and temporary works supporting those trusses have to be removed.
- Pitch The sub-base has to be installed at the perimeter of pitch, followed by gravel. Gravel layers also have to be laid at central area of pitch, followed by sand and finally turf.
- Seating area The complete concrete terracing has to be finished once temporary works are removed. About 45,000 seats still have to be installed.
- Hospitality boxes Of the 161 boxes, 24 are substantially completed, 22 have wall panels installed ready for final fit-out and 42 have completed ceilings ready for final finishes.
- Pedestrian walkway This links the underground station to the stadium. Pile caps construction is in progress, and the structural columns and the decking have still to be constructed.
- Toilets Eight of the 127 toilet pods are complete, 30 have sanitaryware installed, and 33 are ready for the adding of their final finishes.
- Kiosks Four of the 44 catering kiosks are complete, 12 have ceilings complete ready for their final finishes and 11 have floors complete.
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