Crane and Hoist Canada

Toronto stadium renovation requires heavy machinery

October 5, 2016  By Saul Chernos

Pair of lattice-boom crawlers from Mammoet lifts BMO Field canopies into place

While Toronto FC won its North American Soccer League opening match May 7 to launch the team’s newly renovated home at BMO Field, it was cranes that carried the weight of the stadium’s transformation.

Renovations to the multi-purpose facility, originally built in 2007, were designed to accommodate pro sports and help drive the city’s growing business and tourism sectors. The stadium will also become the new home of Toronto’s Canadian Football League team and host the CFL’s Grey Cup this fall.

“The two-year renovation of BMO Field is an important investment in our teams, our fans and the entire city of Toronto,” said Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the stadium operator.


“This project not only gives Toronto FC one of the best stadiums in Major League Soccer but it also provides a world-class home for one of our city’s sports treasures, the Toronto Argonauts. This facility will continue to boost Toronto’s reputation as one of the premier sports and entertainment markets in the world and will play an important role in our championship aspirations.”

$150 million project adds 8,000+ seats

The two-year, $150-million project was completed in phases in order to allow summer-season soccer and other sports events to continue.

From September 2014 to May 2015, crews added more than 8,000 seats, increasing capacity to 30,000, along with private suites, concession stands, a second deck in the east grandstands and a high-definition video board in the north end.

The second phase, which began last September, saw the installation of new football locker rooms and new lighting and sound systems, along with changes to accommodate a CFL field.

While there were many facets to the project, the installation of a massive roof structure, including separate canopies covering the east, west and south grandstands, called for particularly heavy lifting.

Mammoet Canada Eastern supplied two lattice-boom cranes to lift the canopies.

Demags perform tandem lift

A Terex Demag CC2800, a 600-tonne crawler, handled the east side, and a Terex Demag CC2400, a 400-tonne crawler, worked the west side. Crews then used both cranes to tandem lift the 490 U.S. ton south canopy into place.

The tandem lift was an especially challenging job. Crews assembled all canopies on site, but the south one was enormous — 115 metres long, 21 metres wide and 23 metres high. The two lattice-boom crawlers lifted and literally crawled it to where it could be incorporated into the overall roof structure.

The east and west roof canopies were also built on-site but raised in 100-by-40-foot sections.

Crews relied on detailed engineering plans to conduct all three canopy lifts without incident.

First, four enormous “super columns” were engineered in each corner of the stadium to carry the colossal load of the roof trusses that cover the east, west, and south stands. The columns were then plugged into the bedrock underneath using a system of micro piles drilled seven meters below ground, with three enormous legs connected at various levels to support the load of the roof trusses.

What made things especially difficult for the cranes was that they had to remain outside the stadium to protect the playing fields.

This made sense given that the CC2400, brought in from the Netherlands specifically for the job, required more than 100 tractor trailers to transport it to the stadium site. The CC2800 is no small potatoes either.

“The challenge was navigating the cranes around the existing stadium into position,” said Mammoet Canada Eastern’s Jeremy Asher.

Steeve Boivin of Canam-Heavy, which oversaw the fabrication and erection of 3,600 tons of structural steel and other components, said the cranes stood right next to the sections of the building they were working on.

“The west side was a little bit more complicated due to the fact that we had an existing building on the other side, so the space between the two buildings was pretty narrow,” Boivin said.

Sennebogen and Liebherr machines also called in

The various restrictions drove the decision to procure the two lattice-boom crawlers. “It was almost the biggest crane we were able to use with the dimension that we had,” Boivin says.

While lifting the east and west canopies, the two lattice-boom crawlers enjoyed support — a 200-tonne Sennebogen 5500 assisted the CC2800, while a 300-tonne Liebherr LR1300 crawler worked with the CC2400.

Neil Barrows of PCL Constructors Canada, which oversaw the project, concurred that careful engineering and collaboration between all partners and workers — including PCL, Canam-Heavy, Entuitive as the consulting engineer, and Mammoet — were keys to ensuring the successful on-time achievement of the roof structure.

“The communication, planning and foresight on this project speaks volumes to the achievement of getting this complete for Toronto FC’s home opener on May 7,” Barrows said. “The importance of quality control and safety was top of mind, all the way down to the junior technical guys looking at the bearing pressure on soil and the existing conditions underneath the roadway where we were proposing to do the lifts.”

While the canopies were the big deal, there were other big lifts, including 12 temporary shoring towers — six on the east side and six on the west — to support the 15 roof panels. Once the roof sections were fully installed and all trusses bolted, the towers were dismantled and taken away.

Weather poses challenges

Cranes were also used to hoist 3,600 tons of roof components, including girders and structural steel fabricated by Canam Group Inc., the parent company of Canam-Heavy, at its plant in Saint-Gédéon-de-Beauce, Qué.

While tight space restrictions and complicated heavy lifting dominated engineering discussions, weather also played a factor in planning.

“We tracked somewhere around 30 days that we lost for high winds, which is not out of the ordinary,” Barrows said. “The big cranes were obviously a key component to getting the roof completed. The operators persevered, but when you’re lifting roof panels that are 40 feet by over 100 feet they act like a pretty big sail up there in the breeze.”

With the job completed, Mammoet Canada Eastern finds itself with the CC2400 the company brought in from the Netherlands. Ironically, the company had the larger CC2800 on hand, but its fleet lacked an available CC2400 at the time one was needed to navigate the tight spaces.

Stadium ready for Grey Cup

“It was the right crane — the right tool for the right job,” Mammoet’s Asher said.

“We have a massive global fleet of cranes that we draw from depending on where the work is and what’s required,” Asher added. “We’re trying to find more work for it here. But if not it will go to Holland.”

With the work done, and the Toronto FC into another playing season, the remaining action will be on the sports front. Scheduled events include the CFL’s 104th annual Grey Cup championship in November, followed by an annual outdoor regular-season National Hockey League game known as the Centennial Classic in which the Detroit Red Wings play the Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year’s Day.

BMO Field is owned by the City of Toronto, operated by MLSE, and named after its major corporate sponsor, which recently secured 10-year naming rights.

Saul Chernos

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