As assembly of the giant steel arch is going on in front of AFAS Stadion, we're all eagerly awaiting the big lift. According to club information, it should come by early November.
We're already a month into the assembly of AFAS Stadion's main roof truss. Because the stadium has no roof as of now, the recent European clash against Viktoria Plzen had to be carried out in early afternoon rather than evening. This will remain the case until very late into 2020, unless AZ Alkmaar decide to go forward with temporary system. Permission for temporary lighting was granted in mid-August by local authorities.
The 630-ton mega truss (we previously wrote it could weigh up to 2,400 tons but that number is likely the total weight of steel roof structure used) should be assembled in October, before being lifted into place by special crawler cranes. According to AZ Alkmaar's brief reply via Twitter, the process should be complete in early November.
Meanwhile, on remaining three sides of the stadium additional foundations are now being laid for the new cantilever roof pillars. Ironically, AFAS Stadion had already had foundations created for future expansion when it opened in 2006. Now some of them had to be removed to allow laying the new foundations.
Increasing capacity already?
As we wrote before, expansion of AFAS Stadion is possible and the club wish to make use of the situation to make some progress in this matter. While technically it's not a complex issue, legally it is. Until AZ provide additional parking spaces or reach a more favourable agreement with the city, admitting more people than the current capacity is out of question.
Journalist Brian Wijker has recently reminded AZ that the club should help fans visualise how the stadium would change, based on declarations from club officials, led by director Robert Eenhoorn. As Eenhoorn stated before in an interview, the corners will be partially covered. These corners are infamous for allowing the wind to enter the stadium with great speed. But to date no details from the club were revealed.
It remains unclear whether capacity will go up by (partially) covering the corners. However, increasing capacity would fit well in AZ’s longer-term intention to boost the stadium by a maximum of 5,000 seats. For now, elevating the roof and aligning the upper tier should account for between 2,500 and 3,000 additional seats.
A clue from Kingspan?
Further changes would require removing the current moat, through which fans are entering the stands. How could that be achieved? Only by providing a new, different way for fans to access/egress the stadium. This could happen by adding a new, elevated public concourse and vomitories within the stand.
Surprisingly, we may have been given an idea of the solution's shape by Kingspan, subcontractor for the translucent parts of the new roof. Kingspan will provide roughly 2,700 m2 of transparent Light + Air polycarbonate in order to ensure proper sunlight access. The inner edge would be transparent (10 meters in the west and 4 meters across three other stands).
To illustrate the project, Kingspan has used the above image. While not necessarily perfectly up to date, it not only shows the stadium with its new canopy but also with new crowd circulation. The added concourse would be entirely covered from the elements, provide additional space for concession and merchandise kiosks and allow access roughly at half the height of existing stands. This way enough room is created at field level to add up to 5 new rows of seating.
As is visible, the bottom part of the tier has been fully aligned with the middle of the main stand to the left. In addition, extra parabolic-shaped stands have been added in front of the tier with most rows in the middle, and less on the sides.
In the Netherlands, we can see this same configutation in De Kuip (seen below), which 1994 redesign included the so-called ”parterre stands” on four sides of the pitch. Maybe it is not a coincidence the Kuip was redisigned by the same architectural bureau as the one in charge of the AFAS Stadion: Zwart and Jansma.
Fot: G-Tinnetje (cc: by-sa)