Peterhead Football Club last night revealed its vision for a multimillion-pound centre of sporting excellence at its Balmoor Stadium home.
The League Two champions want to tear down ageing facilities at Catto Park and develop a massive sports and community facility on the site, the Press and Journal can reveal.
The idea of a new complex was first mooted more than a year ago when the club teamed up with Aberdeenshire Council to work on a business plan.
Peterhead FC, which is spearheading the project but insists won’t be running it, also commissioned an extensive public consultation, led by Edinburgh-based PMR Leisure.
Originally, developers considered creating a new facility which would stand alongside the existing buildings, including a social club and offices, at Balmoor. Now they want a complete overhaul, with one new building bringing old and new services under one roof.
Project leaders have stressed that the building will be for the whole community, not just sports groups.
Last night, the first designs for the new “unique” development were revealed to a packed public meeting at Balmoor.
The new centre, named the Catto Park Community and Sports Hub, will feature a range of new indoor facilities including a sports hall, dance studio, fitness gym and boxing ring. There will also be space for a day centre for adults with learning and physical needs, which will be run by the local Willowbank charity.
It is proposed that visitors can enter the first floor of the new complex over a bridge from Balmoor Terrace.
Outside, there are plans for a new synthetic pitch for rugby and football, as well as an upgraded running track.
The Balmoor Stadium pitch will remain where it is.
Last night, PMR director Penny Lochhead said the facility – thought to be the only one of its kind in Europe – is likely to cost around £17million.
She said the next step was to gather public support which could help persuade Aberdeenshire Council to contribute towards the project.
A Catto Park company will be formed to explore other funding opportunities, such as from SportScotland or the lottery.
Ms Lochhead said: “All of the facilities we are talking about here adds up to something that is very unique.
“But ‘unique’ can sometimes equal ‘scary’ and that really is our challenge now. We are asking the public to help Aberdeenshire Council be brave and bring about something that will be held up as a leader in social change.
“We believe that the town really does deserve this and it will put Peterhead on the map, but the town has to stand up and say it wants it.”
Peterhead FC vice-chairman Ian Grant added: “I’m not going to kid you on, this is going to be a difficult process. But I truly believe we have a really good chance of delivering this if everyone is on the same wave length and everyone lends their support.”
More than 100 residents attended last night’s presentation. During a show of hands poll, almost all gave their support to the project.
Members of the Buchan area committee also welcomed the development during a sneak preview session earlier in the day.
Although it is too early to say when construction could start, the centre could take about 18 months to build once funding and planning consent is in place.
Peterhead community councillor John Brownlee said the development had the potential to become a “multi-faceted centre of excellence”.
“The plans knock your socks off,” he said. “Its not one of these drab, flat sided sporting sheds you quite often see. This is something unique.”