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Features

Aberdeen fans back plans for beachfront stadium

Aberdeen’s plans for a new beachfront stadium have received “overwhelming” support from fans of the Scottish Premiership football club.

Over 6,500 fans responded to a recent club survey, with 92% in support of the beach location for a new stadium to replace Pittodrie. The new stadium will form part of a £100m (€118m/$124m) regeneration of Aberdeen’s beachfront.

Aberdeen last week invited fans to back the project and revealed a new image of the proposed stadium. It came after a proposal from Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Yuill to remove the stadium from the regeneration was rejected in March.

Aberdeen had previously agreed a deal to build a new stadium on the outskirts of the city but in August the club released a statement saying that it was supporting the council’s new beachfront vision.

The £50m plan for a 20,000-capacity stadium in Kingsford, where the club’s training ground is based, was approved in 2019, before councillors last year detailed plans for a stadium on the beachfront. The club currently plays at Pittodrie Stadium, which is located on the beachfront.

Aberdeen fans have backed the beachfront stadium plan as it would keep the club’s home ground in the city, close to Pittodrie. The club noted that the majority of fans said a football ground should be in the city it serves and sit at the heart of the community.

Being at the heart of the community was the main priority put forward by fans, followed by atmosphere and affordability which were considered top priorities. Proximity to public transport, iconic design and environmental sustainability were factors with less importance to supporters.

The club has sought to gauge the opinion of fans before an outline business case is proposed to Aberdeen City Council in June.

Rob Wicks, Aberdeen’s commercial director, said: “The response to our survey has been fantastic and it’s clear that the vast majority of fans would prefer us to remain near our spiritual home and within the city.

“Inevitably, the long and arduous process of finding a new home for the club has again raised questions over why we can’t stay at Pittodrie and why we are now considering the beach after spending considerable time and money on Kingsford.”

Wicks said that realising the value of the land at Pittodrie would be critical to funding a new stadium, and that redevelopment of the current site would cost the club financially.

“At a new site that isn’t landlocked or otherwise constrained, we can create new, quality, modern and flexible spaces and facilities that will allow us to not only drive current revenues and generate new revenue streams, but also enable considerably more community-led activity,” he said.

“As the only option open to us at the time, Kingsford presented a number of positives, including the benefits of having our training facilities co-located with the stadium and the ease of access for fans from (out of) the city. It was our plan C when there was no plan D.”

Wicks added: “Recognising the urgent need to retain footfall in a city centre devastated by the withdrawal of major retail brands, the council asked us to explore the potential of remaining in the city. Since then we’ve been working with them, our stadium architects and other specialist consultants on potential designs and an outline business case for a new stadium and community sports complex, incorporating an ice rink and leisure centre.”

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack last week admitted that the club’s proposed new home is expected to cost around £30m more than originally projected. Cormack told the club’s YouTube channel, RedTV, that the cost “to build a quality stadium” is now expected to be £70m-£75m due to rises in construction costs.