Scottish Premiership football club Aberdeen has today (Friday) admitted that “initial conversations” have taken place with the city council over a different site near to its current home, Pittodrie, for its proposed new stadium.
Aberdeen has planning permission in place for a new stadium at Kingsford, where it has already opened training facilities, but the project has stalled of late amid the club’s financial challenges during COVID-19.
The club said talks have taken place with the council over strengthening ties between the city centre and beachfront. Aberdeen told the BBC: “With Pittodrie (pictured) earmarked for housing, we are a key stakeholder at the beach. During initial conversations, the possibility of the club being involved in the sports and leisure element was discussed. It’s far too early to make any comment on whether or not this would be progressed by either the club or the council.”
However, the club added: “We remain committed to a new stadium, sports and community facilities at Kingsford, albeit our plans to progress to the next stage have stalled due to the financial challenges we are facing as a result of the pandemic.”
Ahead of his appointment as Aberdeen’s new chairman in December 2019, Dave Cormack admitted that staying at Pittodrie remained an option for the club as it continued to grapple with funding its proposed new stadium.
Earlier, AFL Architects was appointed to carry out a design and operational review of the new stadium. The club’s new 20,000-seat stadium was expected to cost £45m (€50.5m/$61.5m), and in March 2019, Aberdeen was given the green light to press forward with the plans after a judge threw out a legal challenge against the project.
Work on the first phase of the scheme commenced in April 2018 but the No Kingsford Stadium group had argued that the chosen site ventured into green belt land. Aberdeen City Council contested the action and the Court of Session ruled that it was not at fault when granting planning permission for the project.
Councillor Marie Boulton, the city centre masterplan lead, said today that initial talks over the alternative site started last year, adding: “We’re at very early stages, but there is an ambition to bring forward the beach masterplan and we always thought with that there should be a real focus on Aberdeen Football Club.
“We’d like to explore all avenues with the football club to see if there’s a way to keep them in their spiritual home at Pittodrie. I think there’s real opportunities for both of us if we can find a way forward.”
She continued: “We’re not ruling anything in or out. We want to make sure whatever we do works for both parties and wider Aberdeen. It would be irresponsible for me at this stage to speculate on whether there would be a move from Pittodrie to a site close by, but it’s definitely something we are exploring.
“From the council’s perspective, the footfall from the football is really important. It’s not about back tracking, it’s about moving with the times and realising that sometimes situations change.”