These exclusive images show how an Inverurie sporting complex will look after a multi-million pound expansion.
Proposals for the Garioch Sports and Community Centre – which would also become the new home of Highland League club Inverurie Loco Works FC – have been submitted to Aberdeenshire Council.
The Inverurie Sports Development Project yesterday announced plans to expand the current Garioch Sports Centre into one of the biggest amenities in Scotland.
The group have claimed the proposals would create a community facility which could rival the Aberdeen Sports Village in scale, with the inclusion of a gym “four times the size” of the current one.
The proposals – which would service the whole Garioch area – would bring tennis facilities back to Inverurie for the first time in 25 years.
It would also include “hotel-style leisure and spa facilities”, with the ISDP hoping the new-look centre could open in some form by early 2018.
The Scottish Government’s minister for public health and sport, Aileen Campbell visited the site yesterday.
And the chairman of the Garioch Sports Centre, Graeme Hay, said last night the plans would generate the quality of facilities required for the rapidly expanding town and surrounding area.
The chairman of Inverurie Loco Works FC, Eddie Innes, added that the club’s new ground and training facilities would rival any others in the Highland League and be comparable to those of top-level Scottish teams.
The new centre incorporates the current building on Inverurie’s Burghmuir Drive and features tennis courts, a multi-sports arena, fitness suites and an allweather pitch – which will become the home of the town’s football team.
Grass and ultra-modern 3G pitches are included in the facilities, along with a restaurant, a media centre, a children’s play area and an indoor sports “barn”.
The Garioch Sports Centre has run as a not-for-profit trust since 1996. Mr Hay – who is also a member of the ISDP – added: “I think what you are going to see in Inverurie is something pretty unique in Scotland and a fairly major centre in the north-east.
“We sit on 23 acres of land at Garioch Sports Centre and the expansion will be three times the size of what we have got at the moment.
“It is a huge project. We all know the population burst there has been in Inverurie and it is ever increasing.
“We need to grow now to cater for that future.
“We are called the Garioch Sports Centre and we are the centre for the Garioch area. This really is a community project.
“We have had the likes of Hannah Miley and Barry Robson – international athletes coming out of Inverurie – and we want to see more of them coming out of the community in the future.
“We need to deliver something that is going to encourage [the next generation of] Olympians.”
Ms Campbell was joined yesterday by her SNP colleagues, Gordon MP, Alex Salmond, and Aberdeenshire East MSP, Gillian Martin, during the tour of the site.
Mr Salmond claimed the new Garioch Sports and Community Centre could be “one of the best sporting facilities in the country”.
He added: “This is a fantastic project and one that will benefit the local community and Aberdeenshire greatly.
“It is great to see that the Scottish Government is committed to increasing participation in sport throughout the country and Aileen’s visit today is evident of that commitment.
“I look forward to the Scottish Government, the ISDP, the local sports clubs and Inverurie Locos all working closely together to make this new centre the very best it can be.
“The stars are aligning to provide Aberdeenshire one of the best sporting facilities in the country. We must all work together to make this a reality.”
Mrs Martin said: “Over the last few weeks, 12 Scottish athletes have won medals at the Rio Olympics, so it is a perfect week to explore plans to increase health and sport within our community.
“I will be working closely with both my colleagues in Holyrood and the trust to make sure they can see this project come to life and so that the people of Inverurie and beyond can begin to enjoy the fantastic new facilities.”
If planning approval is given, the ISDP will embark on an ambitious fundraising campaign to bring their bold images to fruition.
Their efforts will be bolstered by a starting donation from Inverurie Loco Works FC, but they are also hoping to generate cash from the likes of Sportscotland, the Scottish Government and the Big Lottery Fund.
Last night, the chairman of Inverurie Loco Works FC claimed the creation of the Garioch Sports and Community Centre would allow his organisation to take positive strides forward.
The club was formed in 1902 by the workers of the Great North of Scotland Railway Company, who built the town’s locomotive works base.
Highland League side “the Locos” have played at Harlaw Park since its inception.
The sale of the ground – which seats 2,5000 people – will form a key part of the sporting centre’s expansion, and talks are currently under way with an interested party.
Chairman of Inverurie Loco Works FC, Eddie Innes, confirmed that the facilities being proposed within the plans for the centre, such as the 3G pitches, would provide a boost to the club.
He added: “Obviously, we have always been a community club. This gives us an opportunity to contribute heavily towards the community.
“It is like everything else, you just need to look at the rise of countries such as Iceland who play all their football on artificial surfaces to see the benefits.
“These are facilities that could be used 24-7 for coaching, training and playing. It is a big step forward for the club and the community in Inverurie.
“I think, at the end of the day, everything has got to move forward. We can create a facility (that) will be the best in the Highland League, and perhaps comparable to the Scottish League when completed.”
If planning approval is granted, the sports centre would not be closed to the public during construction and the centre could be built in sections.