Aberdeen FC is “open to exploring the possibility” of abandoning plans for a new stadium at Kingsford and remaining in the city.
Last week Aberdeen City Council revealed it was in talks with the club over the possibility of building a new ground close to Pittodrie – the Dons’ home for nearly 120 years.
The club, as recently as earlier this week, remained adamant that it was “committed” to the Kingsford relocation.
But it is now considering a U-turn after land previously occupied by the Hilton DoubleTree hotel on Beach Boulevard became available.
‘Open to the possibility’
The Dons could perform a U-turn and stay at the beach – despite planning permission already existing for a £40 million arena at Kingsford.
A new training ground and community facilities at Kingsford opened in 2019.
However, as progress on the stadium has halted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic Dons chairman Dave Cormack has revealed they would be “open to the possibility” of remaining in the city.
He said: “Should the regeneration of the beachfront, as part of a refreshed city-centre masterplan be approved and progressed, the club would be open to exploring a potential new site, but everyone involved recognises that it’s still very early days.
“We will of course keep fans updated if and when there is something more substantive to explore.”
Last year Mr Cormack said the pandemic and the enforced absence of fans from stadiums would cost the Dons in excess of £8m – and said the club would have to stop “haemorrhaging cash”.
At the time, he said: “Is it (Kingsford) delayed by one, two or three years?
“If you could tell me when crowds are back at Pittodrie, I could give a better estimate.
“But the reality is that project is on the back burner because all of our efforts are on getting through this, but with also being able to invest significantly in the football operation and fan engagement programme.”
Aberdeen City Council’s ruling administration wants the club to stay in the city as part of radical plans to regenerate the city centre and beach area.
‘I will do everything I can to make this happen’
Co-leader Douglas Lumsden last night pledged to “work together” with the club to find an agreement which would see the Dons take up residence at the DoubleTree site. He said the stadium would be a huge benefit to the area.
Mr Lumsden said: “It’s very encouraging that the club are open to the possibility. It would be fantastic for the city.
“As council co-leader I will do everything I can to make this happen.
“It’s really encouraging to know Dave is open to the idea, and I’m sure we will work together over the coming weeks and months to see if the council and the club can come to some agreement.
“We are not just talking about a stadium here. We are looking at how we regenerate the whole of the city centre and the beach and the stadium being part of those plans would be a huge benefit to the area.
“We have got a lot of work to do and it is very early days, but there is a lot of potential there for something to happen.
“We will work closely together to try and make this happen.”
As well as a new home for the Dons, a new stadium at the beach could also include a replacement for the ageing Beach Leisure Centre.
Council bosses are also looking to include extreme sports facility Transition at the site.
Other clubs in the Scottish football pyramid have their grounds attached to leisure centres, including League 1 side Clyde and League 2 outfit Stirling Albion.
Mr Lumsden said the prospect of a multi-use venue is something the local authority is keen to explore.
He said: “We have got to think carefully about the Beach Leisure Centre because the pool is starting to show its age. There could be something we can do there in terms of cohabiting at the stadium.
A new masterplan has huge potential and it’s welcome that businesses like the Dons are already looking at the possibilities. that offers.”
Councillor Michael Hutchison
“It’s the same with Transition Extreme – rather than relocating them we could look at accommodating them within the stadium.
“We should be looking at all these things to try and turn the whole area into a sport and entertainment venue.”
Michael Hutchison, a councillor for the George Street and Harbour ward in which the new site lies, said: “I’m very pleased that Aberdeen FC is backing a refreshed masterplan which includes the waterfront.
“A new masterplan has huge potential and it’s welcome that businesses like the Dons are already looking at the possibilities. that offers.”