Everton Stadium now has a vibrant splash of blue thanks to the first seat installations.
The significant event occurred less than 24 hours after the final piece of steelwork was hoisted into place to complete the roofing structure.
The first permanent rows of blue plastic seats have been installed in the north-east corner to kick-start the next phase of the bowl development, which will see 52,888 seats positioned over the next six months.
The installations follow detailed work that included bolting supportive handrails to the concrete terracing and then installing a seat carrier system for the seats to sit on each individual row.
Paul Harvey, Construction Manager for Laing O’Rourke, who is responsible for coordinating all the works within the stadium bowl, said:
“We have a lot of activities that have to knit together and a lot of risk involved, so all of that needs coordinating.
“Although the seal installs might look like a simple operation, there are 50,000 holes to drill and a lot of safety issues, with hand and arm vibration.
“Bluecube, who are installing the seats – and led by our engineered safety team – have come up a really good new method using new drill rigs and a suction system, and with some independent analysis it’s pretty much taken away the risks of hand-arm vibration and the dangers of dust inhalation, so that’s a massive move to a different level of safety.
“The last seats will be installed around about Easter of next year. The biggest job is the drilling and in the upper tier, most of that has taken place, so that part of the stadium will change quite quickly now and hopefully, by Christmas, the whole upper tier will have blue seats in them.
“We can’t put the lower tier of terracing in until the roofing has finished, and with the final steelwork lift taking place yesterday, the bigger cranes are moving off site and we can start installing the lower tier. That should all be in place by December, at which point we can start drilling and getting the seats in.”
Scott Blyth, senior supervisor for Bluecube seating, added:
“It’s always nice to be involved in one of the biggest stadium builds and to get that opportunity to install on a major project like this is quite an honour.
“It’s a multi-stage process that’s ahead of us. We have to start with the handrails and once they are all fitted, we get the rails in and then ensure we can fit in the right number of seats per row.
“It’s also quite a logistical and physical challenge to get all of the seats up and down the stairs, and my job is making sure the progress runs correctly and that we are hitting our targets on time.
“With just-in-time deliveries, we are starting to look at two containers per week and each container holds 1,800 seats so that’s 3,600 seats per week getting delivered now, each week, until the end of the project.”
The installation team, which includes a number of local workers, aim to fit around 500 seats per day, in a staggered process over the coming months.
And it was proud moment for Laing O’Rourke employee Abbigail Green, whose role as Social Value Manager is to ensure there are a healthy number of local employees working on the project.
Abbigail who is also training to be a construction manager, was invited to be the first person to sit in the stadium.
“It’s an amazing day really. If you think back 117 weeks ago this was a dock, and now we are in the top tier installing the first seat, so it’s a really big achievement for the project.
“The social value role means that when you plan a project, you have to look to local employment, apprentices, engagements with education partners and all other social aspects.
“Local people have been involved in this project throughout and I’ve engaged with Everton in the Community and Liverpool In Work, who are the skills and employment team at Liverpool City Council, to ensure that local people are getting jobs.
“The same applies in terms of apprentices, the project team and supplier chain, we’ve been given targets in terms of local employment and apprentices and, at the moment, we have 100 apprentice working on the stadium project, which is fantastic.”
This week saw a second significant development on site as the final section of roofing was lifted into place.
The final rafter tip was installed 11 months after the first piece of roofing steelwork was installed and only 18 months after the first steel column was erected on site.
The final coverings will be added to the roof, which is already nearing completion on the north stand.
Steve Farden, Structural Steel Lead for Laing O’Rourke said:
“It’s been a fantastic 24 hours and this week is a real milestone for the project.
“To see that last piece of structural steel go in yesterday was so proud of the team.
“It still feels like yesterday when the first piece of steelwork was going in and look at that we’ve achieved since.
“All that’s left now is to tie in six or seven infill pieces, which tie the movement joint between the east and south stand.
“Structurally, that’s the roof then complete. It can stand up on its own and we can start decking it and doing the waterproofing works.
“It’s great that we have so many local people working here and a credit to the whole team that it feels like every week there is some sort of milestone.
“It’s going to be a fantastic arena, great for football, great for football and great for Everton.”