As the world’s biggest tennis stars battle it out on the court at this year’s Australian Open, behind the scenes Royal Wolf has brought its A-game to the grand slam event, too.
Although an expected crowd of 90,000 people is predicted to flow through the gates at Melbourne Park throughout the three-week tournament, which runs from 16-29 January, many will have no idea that the big screens at the Grand Slam Oval are being held up by stacks of carefully engineered Royal Wolf shipping containers.
Royal Wolf Project Supervisor Harry Schubaji says the planning process for the project started about seven months ago.
“There was a lot of planning that had to be worked on in the back end between Tennis Australia, Royal Wolf and our subcontractors. We had meetings to discuss the process and determine what Tennis Australia wanted, the timing of the delivery, and how the structure would be installed,” Harry explains.
“Tennis Australia gave us a rough drawing of how they wanted the construction to look and we then drew another sketch, took that to our external engineers and got it all certified from an engineering perspective.
“We also had people go out and survey the land to make sure it was stable to build on. Then our Royal Wolf engineers checked, modified and certified the drawings to make sure the structures we were putting up would be 110 per cent safe,” he says.
The main structure, which is located in the Grand Slam Oval, is made up of three stacks, with each stack comprising three shipping containers.
“You’ve got the bottom stack, which has kiosks where you can purchase food and drinks. Then the middle layer, which is a container filled with concrete blocks and acts as a counterweight holding the whole structure down. And the top container where the screen is bracketed on,” Harry says.
There are a further two smaller stacks, also fitted with screens, in the precinct. One is positioned at the entrance to the Grand Slam Oval and the other, which has a long cinema-like screen, can be found in the northern car park.
CHANGING IT UP
Royal Wolf has been working with the Australian Open for many years, but the design of the space is always evolving.
“The design changes every year,” Harry says. “Next year, the Australian Open design team will come up with something completely different to what they’ve used in 2023.”
At the end of the day, Harry says, he is most proud of everyone coming together to get the job done.
“Working closely with the Australian Open team and our subcontractor MCG Cranes, who helped with the installation, is a highlight for me,” he says.
GAME, SET, MATCH
The enormity of the event isn’t lost on Harry, either.
“It means a lot to be a part of such a huge international event. From going into an empty space to seeing the finished product makes you feel like you’ve achieved something great,” he says.
To pull off such a high-profile project, the wolf pack had to work together. Harry credits everyone at Royal Wolf, from the boilermakers and welders to the on-site crew and administration team, for making it happen.
“It’s a real Royal Wolf team effort. It’s the guys in the backend who don’t often get recognised who are the ones who actually go out, do the work, accommodate last-minute changes and finish the job on time – they’re the ones who need to be thanked,” Harry says.