Plans for a new football stadium at Aberdeen Beach could include a new sports complex to replace the existing leisure centre, council leaders say.
Last week the Evening Express exclusively revealed local authority leaders had launched a bid to convince Aberdeen FC to rethink plans to move out of town and build a new stadium on land near its current home at Pittodrie.
Aberdeen City Council wants the club to stay close to its historic home as part of radical plans to regenerate the city centre and beach areas.
Part of those proposals could see a new stadium also include other sports facilities to replace the ageing Beach Leisure Centre, and a new home for sports venue Transition Extreme.
Other clubs in the Scottish football pyramid have their grounds attached to leisure centres, including League One side Clyde and League Two outfit Stirling Albion.
Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said the prospect of a multi-use venue is something the local authority is keen to explore.
He said: “We have got to think carefully about the Beach Leisure Centre because the pool is starting to show its age. There could be something we can do there in terms of co-habiting at the stadium.
“It’s the same with Transition Extreme – rather than relocating them, we could look at accommodating them within the stadium.
“We should be looking at all these things to try and turn the whole area into a sport and entertainment venue.”
The Dons already have planning permission for a new stadium at Kingsford, between Kingswells and Westhill.
A new training ground and community facilities at the same site opened in 2019.
However, progress on the stadium has halted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and club chairman Dave Cormack revealed the Dons would be “open to the possibility” of remaining in the city.
He said: “Should the regeneration of the beachfront, as part of a refreshed city centre masterplan be approved and progressed, the club would be open to exploring a potential new site, but everyone involved recognises that it’s still very early days.
“We will of course keep fans updated if and when there is something more substantive to explore.”
Any new ground would be likely to be built on land previously occupied by the Doubletree Hilton hotel on Beach Boulevard, which closed down last year.
Mr Lumsden said: “It’s very encouraging that the club is open to the possibility. It would be fantastic for the city if the club was to stay in the beach area.
“As council co-leader I will do everything I can to make this happen.
“It’s really encouraging to know Dave is open to the idea, and I’m sure we will work together over the coming weeks and months to see if the council and the club can come to some agreement.
“We are not just talking about a stadium here. We are looking at how we regenerate the whole of the city centre and the beach, and the stadium being part of those plans would be a huge benefit to the area.
“We have got a lot of work to do and it is very early days, but there is a lot of potential there for something to happen.
“We will work closely together to try and make this happen.”
Since the story broke last week, Dons fans have reacted positively to the possibility of staying close to Pittodrie, with a number of polls showing a majority in favour of the beach site.
A spokesman for the Cromwell Reds supporters’ club said: “We’re delighted Dave has confirmed the club is open to the idea of building the new ground at the beach site.
“It’s unfortunate the site wasn’t available a few years earlier, but now that it is it’s an opportunity we can’t let pass us by and should grab with both hands.
“The beach site is an absolute game-changer.
“Staying in the heart of the city the club represents would be a massive boost for us all.
“Let’s build an incredible, state-of-the-art stadium that will benefit the entire city in a community that will welcome it.
“Some of our members live a stone’s throw from the beach site and would be over the moon to have the new ground on their doorstep.”
Calum Wright, co-host of the Dons podcast Red Tinted Glasses, added: “Personally, I’m delighted with the City Council’s proposal to keep AFC within the city.
“I love when stadiums are in the heart of the city – where I believe they belong – and I think it makes for a much better match day experience, so to see the council actively moving to ensure that this continues to be the case and for Dave Cormack to talk about the proposal so positively is really encouraging.”
Michael Hutchison, a councillor for the George Street and Harbour ward in which the new site lies, said: “I’m very pleased that Aberdeen FC is backing a refreshed masterplan which includes the waterfront.
“A new masterplan has huge potential and it’s welcome that businesses, like the Dons, are already looking at the possibilities that offers.”