A leading North-east hotel group today backed Aberdeen FC’s proposed new stadium.
The support of Aberdeen City & Shire Hotels Association came as it was revealed supporters of and objectors to the plan have until next Monday to submit their views.
In a letter to Aberdeen City Council, Gary Atkinson, the group’s chairman, said the hotel and hospitality sector had suffered badly from the oil downturn and the new stadium would “shift the over-reliance from this industry and encourage other key sectors, such as sports and leisure, which will help sustain and grow our economy”.
He said approving the £50 million scheme would send out a strong signal that the region is “open for business”.
He added: “This much-needed confidence will spill over into other sectors, including hospitality and tourism which are vital to the future sustainability of this region and for maintaining high levels of employment.
“Improving the sports, leisure and recreation of our region is key to our success and, when combined with the world-class existing indoor sports and aquatics facilities already in place in Aberdeen at the Sports Village, this ambitious development will greatly enhance the North-east’s position as not only a Scottish sporting powerhouse, but an area with facilities which match the best in Europe.”
The Dons’ plans for Kingsford, close to the Aberdeen bypass, would see a training facility completed first, which the first team would start using in 2018.
The 20,000-capacity stadium – which has taken inspiration from Bristol City’s Ashton Gate stadium for its design – is expected to be completed by the start of the 2020/21 season.
More than 5,200 people have had their say on the proposals so far.
Around 3,300 letters objecting to the major development have been submitted to the city council.
Concerns include potential hooliganism in Kingswells and Westhill and the impact on the areas roads.
About 1,800 letters have been sent supporting the plans, with some claiming it will benefit grassroots football as well as Aberdeen FC itself.
George Yule, executive vice chairman of Aberdeen FC, said: “This is an exciting and significant project for the club, AFC Community Trust, the city and region.
“We consulted widely in the development of our plans and believe that the level of interest that our proposals have received to date reflect their importance.
“A project of this scale will attract a range of views and we believe there is a compelling case for the creation of training and community facilities and a new stadium at Kingsford to complement the world-class indoor and aquatic facilities at Aberdeen Sports Village.”
He added: “We’d encourage anyone who shares our vision of delivering a major private investment to create a focal point for football, sport and wider community engagement to support the proposals via the city council’s planning portal before the deadline later this month.
“This project is a real and game-changing opportunity for the city and region to demonstrate its ability to support the delivery of a flagship project with benefits for all at a time of economic challenge and transition.”
Members of the No Kingsford Stadium group – which is battling to block the project – urged people to voice their opinion on why the project should be turned down by the council.
The group said: “It’s not too late to send your objection form or letter in. The more objections there are, the more the council will see that there is a large groundswell of public opinion against this.”