Council bosses are in talks with Aberdeen FC in a bid to make them abandon plans for a new stadium at Kingsford and instead relocate to the site of a former city hotel at the beach, the Evening Express can reveal.
However, the Evening Express can now reveal council leaders have launched a bid to convince the Dons to reconsider the move as part of a revised city centre masterplan.
Initial talks have taken place between local authority chiefs and the club over the possibility of the Reds building a new stadium close to Pittodrie as part of a wider scheme to regenerate the area around Aberdeen Beach.
A council source told the Evening Express the site of the former Hilton DoubleTree hotel on Beach Boulevard, which closed last year, is thought to be the best site.
Further discussions are planned, in which city leaders will attempt to convince the club to remain close to its spiritual home.
City centre masterplan lead Marie Boulton said: “Aberdeen Football Club is one of our city’s major assets. My preference would always have been for the council to work with the club to allow it to remain in the city centre.
“As a city, we want to retain as much vibrancy as possible and the club is a key contributor to that.
“People come into town and spend their money in local businesses. Matchday is a lifeline for many of the pubs and restaurants in the city.
“It is really important that we do not lose sight of how crucial that is to the city.”
Ms Boulton added: “The area around Pittodrie is the club’s natural and spiritual home. We are used to seeing generations of the same families walking through the city centre to get to the game and we don’t want those to become mere memories.
“We really hope there can be a way forward with this because the club remaining in town would help save the city centre.
“It is early days but there is a real willingness on our part to work with Aberdeen Football Club to find a way that works for everyone.”
It is understood council chiefs would look to relocate businesses in the area, such as extreme sports facility Transition, to other sites if talks are successful.
Local authority officials began exploring the possibility of building a new stadium in the area as early as August last year.
Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said: “It would be great for Aberdeen if the club was able to remain in the city. A lot of businesses were concerned about the impact of a move out of town.
“The likes of the golf clubs and Pittodrie Bar would have been heavily impacted, as would a lot of places in the city centre.
“It would be a good thing for the city centre as a whole if the stadium was to remain in the beach area.”
Last year Dons chairman Dave Cormack admitted the construction of the new stadium could be set back “years” as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He estimated the financial impact of the virus and the absence of fans since March would cost the club around £8 million – and warned it would have to stop “haemorrhaging cash”.
Mr Cormack said: “Is it 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.”
A Dons spokeswoman said: “With Pittodrie 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.
“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.”