Aberdeen FC chairman Dave Cormack has admitted the Dons’ “dream” to build a new stadium at the beach is at risk of falling apart.
And the businessman has warned that accompanying plans to revive the seafront won’t get off the ground without such a focal point to bring people to the area.
He cautioned that the city centre “cannot afford” the loss of footfall that would come with the side instead building at Kingsford.
In an exclusive statement to the Press and Journal, the Dons boss revealed fears the popular Pittodrie replacement will remain “in doubt” until there is the “political will to make it happen”.
Dave Cormack issues beach stadium warning amid ongoing uncertainty
He addressed the lingering doubt as as councillors prepare to meet next week to discuss major beach regeneration plans.
The club will only be dissuaded from relocating to the outskirts of Aberdeen if the authority helps to fund the £80 million seaside stadium.
That, at one point, seemed likely.
But Aberdeen City Council has had a change of heart since the May 2022 elections, when the SNP and Liberal Democrats ousted the former Tory and Labour leaders.
And in recent months, there have been dire warnings about how financially stretched the body is.
Hopes high for Aberdeen turnaround – but where does council stand on football stadium?
Mr Cormack spoke out as a raft of reports landed in the inboxes of elected members.
Talks are taking place on major changes to Union Street and progress on the reinvigorated Aberdeen Market is gathering pace.
Councillors will be asked to drive forward a £50m initial phase of work aimed at turning the beach into an attraction.
A coastal football stadium has been listed by many Aberdonians as the component of the beach project they are most excited about.
But in the new dossier, there were just a few fleeting allusions to what is now referred to as a “potential stadium”.
One note simply described the highly sought-after 16-18,000-seater ground as “an option”.
However, a business case for the entire £440m beach revamp indicated that the lasting success of the events field and expensive playpark would be “heavily dependent” on later additions.
Dave Cormack: ‘A new stadium at the beach remains in doubt’
However, it’s not known when the necessary business case for the potential stadium will be completed. Things can’t get going until that is in place.
And the Dons are seeking some assurance that the stalemate could soon be resolved.
Mr Cormack said: “Until there is a full business case and the political will to make it happen, a new stadium at the beach remains in doubt.
“The club is convinced that a beachfront stadium and associated community sports and leisure facilities would be transformational for the city.
“Successful regeneration projects require a centrepiece that drives socio-economic value.
“Indeed, elements for phase one of the beachfront masterplan are ‘heavily dependent’ on other developments such as the Beach Ballroom and proposed leisure facilities.”
City centre ‘can’t afford to lose Dons’
Last year, a report commissioned by the Dons and Aberdeen City Council predicted that the new stadium would inject £1 billion into the local economy over the next 50 years.
The club chairman believes it’s an opportunity the city shouldn’t miss.
Mr Cormack continued: “Crucially, it would keep the club in the city centre, which cannot afford to lose any further footfall.”
‘We will do our utmost to collaborate with the council’
And the businessman insists that the knock-on benefits of a thriving beach and city centre will be vast.
He added: “Our energy industry and other businesses are struggling to attract people to come and work in Aberdeen.
“Becoming the renewable energy capital of the world is nothing but a pipedream unless there is significant capital investment in facilities and infrastructure that transform the city centre.”
Mr Cormack cited Teesside and Newcastle as places that have “made significant strides” in attracting the “thousands of green jobs that will be created by the energy transition”.
“For future generations of Aberdonians, we cannot let this renewable energy opportunity slip through our hands,” he urged.
The impassioned chairman concluded: “We will continue to do our utmost to collaborate with the council when they revisit the business case for the next stage of the beach masterplan, which we hope will be before the end of the year.”
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How tide has turned on beach stadium idea within council HQ
The football ground has been pencilled in as part of the local authority’s multi-million-pound proposals to regenerate the seafront for more than two years.
It all began with local leaders approaching club chiefs in early 2021, eventually persuading them of the benefits of remaining in the city.
The Dons later confirmed the coastal spot as their preferred site, over Kingsford.
But they say they’d need some financial contributions from the authority to make it happen, and that has become the sticking point.
There was shock when, only months after being elected, the new SNP and Lib Dem leaders, Alex Nicoll and Ian Yuill, ruled out any public cash.
Christian Allard was named the new leader of the SNP group when Mr Nicoll stood down after a year, and became council co-leader in May.
Councillors will discuss the future of the beach during a meeting on Wednesday.