Drive solution for the Zenit Arena in St. Petersburg

  • Bird's eye view of the Zenit arena
  • Zenit arena with open roof

Roof and pitch in perfect motion

What if the weather deteriorates during the World Cup match? No problem: Thanks to sophisticated drive and control technology, the roof of the Zenit Arena in St. Petersburg can be closed during the 15 minute half-time interval. And to protect the grass during concerts, our drives allow the pitch to be rolled to the side whenever required.

The project at a glance

Zenit Arena

Zenit Arena St. Petersburg

End customer: FK Zenit (Futbolny klub Senit) / Zenit Arena

OEM (roof): VCPT SMK, St. Petersburg

OEM (grass pitch): OMEGA NPK, St. Petersburg

Location: St. Petersburg (Russia)

Industry: Stadium construction

Application: Mobile roof and rolling grass pitch


  • The stadium should be usable throughout the year; consistent, pleasant temperatures should be possible during events or matches
  • The two mobile roof elements must be moved uniformly and closed or opened within 15 minutes
  • The drive technology should be very light and compact
  • The bending of the steel construction must be compensated during the movement
  • The tolerances of the roof frame must also be compensated
The grass pitch of the Zenit Arena is rolled into the stadium

Grass pitch:

  • To avoid damaging the grass during events such as pop concerts, it must be possible to roll the playing field out of the stadium for safe storage
  • The grass pitch must be rolled in and out perfectly evenly
  • It must be possible to store the drive technology in a space-saving manner after usage


Red industrial gear units under the closed roof of the Zenit Arena

28 drives with inverters:

  • 28 industrial planetary gear units of the P series with helical-bevel gearmotors as primary gear units of the type PHF032 KF87 DRS180S4BE30/TH/EG7C/DUB
  • 28 MOVIDRIVE® application inverters of the type MDX61B0150-503-4-00
  • Various options

Grass pitch

Trailer-like drive units for retracting and extending the grass pitch without concrete blocks, with truck tires and gray control cabinet on the left of the image as well as red gearmotors on top

32 two-wheel drive modules:

  • 32 industrial helical gear units of the MC series with primary gearmotors (helical-bevel gearmotors)
    • of the type MC3RLSF06, each with two output shafts / two LSS (low-speed shafts) for powering the tires
    • KF87 DRS180S4BE30/TH/EG7C/DUB
  • 32 MOVIDRIVE® application inverters of the type MDX61B0015-5A3-4-OT
  • Concrete blocks to add weight and prevent wheel slippage
  • Primary gearmotors (helical-bevel gearmotors) that can be disconnected and stored separately
  • Modules that can towed away and stored separately

Retractable roof and sliding pitch

Planning and startup:

  • Close cooperation between the SEW‑EURODRIVE engineers and both OEMs
  • Projects were completed on time and with the highest quality
  • Highest levels of efficiency and safety


  • SEW‑EURODRIVE has its Russian headquarters in St. Petersburg
  • Service and spare parts warehouses are nearby and easy to reach
  • Utmost reliability and quality when it comes to SEW‑EURODRIVE service

Roof project:

  • Small and light drive technology:
    The planetary gear units employed combine high torque with lowest possible weight and a space-saving, compact design
  • Control technology ensures perfectly even load distribution across all 28 drives while also compensating for the deflection of the steel construction and the tolerance of the frame.

Grass pitch project

  • Very simple mechanical construction that is tailored exactly to customer requirements
  • The use of individual drive modules was particularly cost-saving for the OEM (frame, storage and transport costs)
  • Control technology ensures perfectly even load distribution across all 32 drives and thus avoids overloading of individual drives while also preventing damage to the pitch and its mechanism

Vladimir Aleshkin, Head Engineer of the Zenit Arena

For the Zenit Arena project, it is absolutely essential for us to have reliable and professional partners at our sides. With SEW‑EURODRIVE, we benefit from high quality standards and utmost efficiency.


The project in detail

A UFO has landed ...

"Like a spaceship that has landed on the shores of the Gulf of Finland" – that was the vision of renowned Japanese architect Kishō Kurokawa when he designed the new soccer stadium in St. Petersburg more than eleven years ago. Unfortunately, he never witnessed the stadium's completion in April 2017 having passed away a year after construction began.

Despite the challenging conditions presented by the construction site, a gigantic building complex for more than 68 000 spectators and with a total surface area of 287 600 square meters was erected at the mouth of the Neva river. The stadium owes its name "Zenit Arena" to the home team and owner: the soccer club FC Zenit, which plays in the Russian premier league.

St. Petersburg now boasts the second-largest stadium in Russia by surface area, bettered only by the Luzhniki Olympic Stadium in Moscow, which can accommodate around 81 000 spectators. When it comes to height, however, the Zenit Arena beats its Moscow counterpart hands downs. Its 57 meters (without pillars) make it the tallest stadium in Russia (by comparison, Munich's Allianz Arena has a height of 52 meters).

Winter-proof and evergreen ...

View into the Zenit Arena, green grass, stands with blue seats and glass roof dome
Sliding pitch and convertible roof

Weatherproof and pitch-friendly thanks to convertible roof and retractable playing field:

The innovative technology is perfectly in keeping with the futuristic design of this soccer palace: Two elements in the steel construction allow a large section of the roof to be opened or closed in just 15 minutes. This offers the advantage that players, organizers and spectators can enjoy a warm 20°C, even when outside temperatures plummet. The open roof, on the other hand, allows sufficient sunshine onto the pitch to ensure that the grass can grow.

Yet the glass dome is not the only retractable feature: The grass pitch can also be moved. When a pop concert is to take place, the pitch simply makes way. While the party kicks off inside, the grass can recover outside the stadium. The 120 x 80 meter pitch is then simply rolled back inside, in perfect condition for the next match. This impressive "grass care" regime takes approx. six hours.

28 planetary gear units with MOVIDRIVE® deliver a perfect view of the sky

Large red gear unit under the steel construction of the domed roof
P series planetary gear units ensure gentle movement of the roof
P series planetary gear units ensure gentle movement of the roof

Admittedly, you are unlikely to be staring at the sky while witnessing a pulsating match or enthralling concert inside the stadium. But if you do happen to steal a glance at the enormous dome, you might be able to spot a star or even an illuminated planet through the glass roof. And you may ask yourself what the red dots are that light up in the steel construction at regular intervals.

On closer examination, the 28 red dots reveal themselves as the high-torque industrial planetary gear units of the P series. These allow two large elements of the round roof dome to be opened and closed via a rack and pinion mechanism in just 15 minutes. Thanks to their high power-to-weight ration and compact design, these gear units represent the perfect answer to the customer's requirement for a light, space-saving solution.

Bird's eye view of the Zenit Arena with opened roof
Zenit Arena with opened roof
Zenit Arena with opened roof

However, the gear units alone would be unable to master the considerable challenge presented by the enormous stadium roof. The motion sequences have to be highly accurate, while also handling the glass dome with utmost care. This requires the load to be distributed evenly across all gear units, while overloading must also be avoided. In addition, the natural deflection of the steel construction must be compensated, as must the construction-based tolerance of the roof frame.

This is why each planetary gear unit is accompanied by a MOVIDRIVE® application inverter The inverters allow the load to be distributed accurately across all drives, thus meeting all the relevant requirements and ensuring even movement of the roof. During opening and closing, the position of the roof is continuously monitored by our encoders and safety limit switches.

32 industrial helical gear units with MOVIDRIVE® for healthy grass ...

Trailer-like drive units for retracting and extending the grass pitch without concrete blocks, with truck tires and gray control cabinet on the left of the image as well as red gearmotors on top
Drives of the sliding grass pitch during construction, in this case without

While they are not yet able to cut the grass, they are highly adept at sliding the pitch out of the way so that it is not subjected to excessive or unnecessary stress: 32 drive units, each equipped with an industrial helical gear unit with MOVIDRVE® inverter are responsible for moving every last blade of grass evenly and smoothly.

Their appearance resembles that of laden trailers on two massive wheels. This construction allows the drive units to be towed away individually, in a straightforward and cost-effective manner.

As easy as they are to be pulled, the drive units generally prefer to do the pulling themselves: For this purpose, each of the attached industrial gear units is equipped with two output shafts (LSS). LSS stands for "low speed shaft", and every one of these output shafts powers a separate truck tire.

Each of these combinations is equipped with a MOVIDRIVE® application inverter. These enable closed-loop control, which ensures that all of the units can pull with same force. This in turn allows the grass pitch to be moved evenly and in a straight line. To prevent the wheels from slipping on wet ground, each of the combinations is weighted down with a concrete block.

Look at this video showing the pitch moving in the stadium.

Simple yet ingenious solutions

Amazing engineering and exceptional service ...

Zenit Arena interior view, stands with blue seats and steel construction of glass dome
Zenit Arena interior view
Zenit Arena interior view

When our customers are asked why they opted for SEW‑EURODRIVE, the answers are often very similar, boiling down to the fact that we offer the perfect combination of quality, customer proximity and service.

The fact that we have our Russian headquarters in St. Petersburg was one of the main reasons why the constructors of the Zenit Arena turned to SEW‑EURODRIVE as their perfect partner for this mammoth undertaking. As a result, the right customer advisor, application engineer and service expert are always close to hand and able to offer personal assistance whenever required. As an additional bonus, our Russian spare parts warehouse is also located in St. Petersburg, meaning that the operators of the Arena do not have to keep their own stocks of drive technology parts. SEW‑EURODRIVE was also chosen as a provider known to have the most experience with even load distribution in multi-drive systems.

"As the owner of the stadium, FC Zenit values the service and support of a reliable and professional partner," explains Oleg Khoroshinin, the SEW‑EURODRIVE sales engineer responsible for the project: "Our customer is always safe in the knowledge that all work is completed to the exacting quality standards of SEW‑EURODRIVE. This ensures utmost efficiency and maximum safety."

The project represented an impressive feat of engineering from all parties involved – that is, both OEMs, the end customer and SEW‑EURODRIVE. The experts from SEW‑EURODRIVE were involved in the construction of the roof and pitch transport systems from the outset. In particular, the drive units for the rolling grass pitch highlighted just how simple a high-quality solution can be. Moreover, the solution proved highly cost-effective for our OEM customer OMEGA NPK, particularly with regard to the frame, storage and transport costs. All in all, it was an extremely successful and very exciting project.

SEW‑EURODRIVE – 25 years in Russia

A brief overview:

  • 1993: Establishment of the Russian subsidiary in St. Petersburg
  • Current Russian sites:
    • Headquarters with Drive Technology Center (sales, service, assembly, training and spare parts warehouse) in St. Petersburg
    • Drive Center (Technical Office and service center) in Khabarovsk
    • Additional Technical Offices in Moscow, Novosibirsk, Krasnodar, Tolyatti, Perm, Yekaterinburg and Irkutsk
  • Number of employees in Russia: 80 (as at March 2018)

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