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Hybrid pitch hosting rugby, concerts and more could see new Dons stadium surpass ‘billion-pound boost’ to city

Aberdeen FC have confirmed any new stadium would have a modern hybrid pitch, as backers claim the financial rewards could be massive
AGCC's Fergus Mutch believes the sort of events planned for Aberdeen FC's hybrid pitch at a new stadium could generate in excess of £1 billion. Supplied by Mhorvan Park, design team.

Backers of Aberdeen FC’s new stadium plans say a projected “billion-pound boost” to the city could well be eclipsed as visitors flock to much more than just football matches.

According to a report revealed last month, a new ground for the Dons would pump £1bn into the local economy over its estimated 50-year lifespan.

But Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC), who helped author the hefty dossier, say the eventual cash boost could well be in excess of that.

And the Dons have confirmed that any pitch at the £80 million stadium would be hybrid – meaning about 25% of the turf would be plastic.

This would help it to withstand the various events – both sporting and entertainment – envisioned for the seafront arena.

How new stadium could usher in boom at the beach

It’s the addition of rugby matches, the possibility of Scotland internationals at under-21, women’s and men’s levels and the increasing number of Aberdeen FC Women matches that have AGCC feeling so optimistic.

Fergus Mutch, policy advisor for AGCC, says it will be crucial to “make it clear” the ground is more than “simply the domain of one football team”.

Fergus Mutch believes the city “cannot afford” to lose Aberdeen FC – with the prospect of a future at Kingsford still possible. Picture by Wullie Marr / DC Thomson

He explained: “The crowd sizes could be realised pretty quickly.

“That can  be done by focussing from the get-go on what it can unlock for the community – making it clear that this is a stadium for women and men’s football, for rugby, for concerts…”

How does the ‘billion-pound-boost’ break down?

The new arena would hold between 16,000 and 18,000 people – a drop from Pittodrie’s 20,000 and the same number envisioned for the on-hold Kingsford ground.

But despite that, the club is confident the seafront location will result in a far bigger boost to the city.

The recent report cites research which indicates fans tend to spend between £11.50 and £28.50 on transport, food and “pre-match entertainment” on game days.

The report includes this table breaking down the expected attendance figures:

The above table was included in the report which stressed the “catalytic impact” of a new Dons stadium on the future of the city. Since it was published the SFA have said the Scotland men’s team could play in Aberdeen too.

Dons bosses expect to sell out the new stadium for Aberdeen FC first team fixtures, Scotland games (at all levels) and for rugby games.

Rising popularity of women’s games could be pivotal

Already Aberdeen FC Women have played a handful of ties at Pittodrie, with encouraging fan support which is expected to grow from the 1,652 on Sunday and 1,894 in March.

A sign of what’s possible came last month when England Women sold out Wembley for the first time ahead of an upcoming clash with Germany.

More than 1,000 supporters took in the Scottish Women’s Premier League tie between Aberdeen Women and Glasgow Women at Pittodrie on Sunday October 30.

The report estimates an average attendance of 12,000 every year for women’s games in years to come.

And with an expected one concert every season alongside 158 non-match events, like conferences or meetings, an estimated 751,700 people could visit the new stadium each term.

The report states: “It is estimated that 38m visitors would be attracted to the beach area over a 50-year period, based on a new stadium facility being sited there.”

Scotland supporters packed into Pittodrie in September 1997 to watch as a David Hopkin double contributed to a 4-2 win over Belarus. The SFA say more men’s international fixtures could be staged at the new stadium. Credit: Ross Kinnaird/ALLSPORT

‘These are conservative estimates’

But Mr Mutch is optimistic that even those lofty goals could eventually be surpassed.

He added: “I think these are quite conservative estimates to be quite honest.

“Certainly the rise in spectators of women’s football over the past five to 10 years has been substantial. And that is expected to grow.

“The economic benefits based off the back of these numbers are also very conservatively estimated…

“If you take the 38m spectators, them alone spending £25-£30 in the local economy very, very quickly takes you to £1bn of benefits.

These are realistic and conservative estimates of the sorts of numbers we are talking about.”

The plans for Aberdeen beach would do away with a major piece of road, ending its use as a commuter run. Image: Aberdeen City Centre.
The new stadium would form part of a major revamp of the beach. Image: Aberdeen City Centre.

What bonus events would attract you to visit the new Aberdeen stadium? Let us know in our comments section below

Aberdeen FC say hybrid pitch would ‘maximise use’

And installing cutting-edge new turf would help to make sure the range of other events don’t infringe on the Dons’ playing surface.

A spokeswoman for Aberdeen FC said any new stadium would “benefit from the latest in hybrid pitch technology to ensure its use could be maximised”.

She added: “This would allow us to host women’s games, internationals and rugby matches, in addition to the men’s first team.”