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News Release


12 June 2002

Specialist seismic engineering expertise from the Auckland and Wellington offices of Sinclair Knight Merz is being used in the development of a new 65,000 seat stadium for the famous Benfica Football Club in Portgual.

The Estadio da Luz , or the Stadium of Light , is so-called because, like the existing stadium, the roof will be illuminated to appear to hover at night.

The engineering design (all services) for the stadium is being undertaken Sinclair Knight Merz, working for Portuguese contractor Somague, and with project managers and quantity surveyors Northcroft and joint lead architects HOK Sport (London) and Portuguese architect Aarq.

Sinclair Knight Merz has drawn on its global resources to provide the client with leading edge design skills out of its London office and specialist seismic expertise from New Zealand.

Sinclair Knight Merz Project Manager, Chris Deshon, said the new stadium would provide a much-needed revamp of facilities for one of the high profile clubs in the European football league.

Trevor Robertson, New Zealand's General Manager Buildings said Sinclair Knight Merz brought leading edge skills in long-span roofing structures, extensive experience in stadium design, earthquake engineering and knowledge of the latest design principles to the project.

"A stadium has its own special areas of complexity such as sloping terraces, large spans and the dynamic action of crowd loading. The New Zealand team has been involved specifically for its seismic expertise and understanding of these issues. As well as our teams in Auckland and Wellington, we have had staff seconded to London and Portugal during some of the design period."

Sinclair Knight Merz is a leading professional services consulting firm employing more than 3000 staff in offices across the New Zealand, United Kingdom, Australia, South East Asia, the Pacific and South America. It is best known for the engineering design of Stadium Australia Sydney's Olympic Stadium and is currently working on the redesign of the famous Wembley Stadium.

"The Stadium of Light is more than just a stadium it is the new home of a national passion," Mr Deshon said.

"In Europe and Africa, Benfica could be compared to Manchester United in the UK in terms of sheer volume of supporters and its incredible public profile.

"In fact, the site office of the new stadium has been inundated with requests from local Portuguese tradesmen pleading to work on its construction. Such is the passion, they are asking for minimum payment just to be a part of a new era in the club's history."

Mr Deshon said the existing stadium would remain fully operational until the new stadium is completed in September 2003. The new stadium is being built adjacent to the old stadium.

"European Soccer's ruling body UEFA has agreed that the Stadium of Light would host the final of Euro 2004, based on satisfactory progress with its design and construction - we are on track to meet that deadline," he said.

"Apart from specially designed exterior lighting to achieve the 'hovering' effect, the new stadium features covered seating and soaring steel beams," he said.

"The stadium facade will be enclosed in glass with four massive columns at the corners and it is proposed that ashes of the old will be included in the new, with partly-crushed rubble from the old stadium used in the hollowed-out foundations of the new stadium."



For further information, contact:
Chris Deshon
Sinclair Knight Merz
Ph: +44 (0) 20 7257 8631

Trevor Robertson
Sinclair Knight Merz
Ph: (+64 9 913 8900)

Issued Through:
Alex Paton
Public Affairs Manager
Sinclair Knight Merz
Ph: +61 2 9928 2476

Fiona Gibb
Marketing Communications Manager, UK-Europe
Sinclair Knight Merz (Europe) Limited
Ph: +44 (0) 20 7257 8667


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