Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack has vowed to boost attendances by inspiring the “lost generation” to come to Pittodrie and the proposed new stadium.
Cormack officially replaced Stewart Milne as chairman following the club’s 116th annual general meeting on Monday.
One of his major priorities is to deliver a new stadium at Kingsford, which is projected to cost between £40 million and £50 million. The exact cost will be confirmed following a consultation period with London-based architects and Dons supporters.
Cormack wants the new stadium, and Pittodrie before the move, to not just be packed for every game but to have an inspiring atmosphere.
One of the key factors in attaining this, he believes, is engaging with the 60,000 primary school pupils in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – the fans of the future.
Cormack also wants to provide opportunities for teen fans to make some noise at games. He said: “I feel we have lost a generation of young people coming to Pittodrie as the platform hasn’t been there for them to enjoy or express themselves.
“There are things we can do today with fan involvement, even at Pittodrie, so that we attract more people, whether that be primary school kids or teens – such as reaching out to the 60,000 primary school kids and making them members of Aberdeen football club – because they are the fans of the future.
“We have a vision of making every primary school kid in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire a member of Aberdeen football club. We will probably drive that though the AFC Community Trust because they are in these schools every day delivering programmes.
“Out of that will come opportunities for people to get vouchers to go to games.
“I would rather have the stadium full with the same income we are getting today than 14,000 people coming in for that income.
“There is also more that we can do to make people feel welcome and encourage the people, let’s say the 14-to-20-year-olds, that want to make a noise at Pittodrie.
“We will come out with some plans in the next few months for next season that will improve and drive fan engagement.”
The attendance for the 1-0 defeat of Hamilton at the weekend was just 12,325, while only 14,790 were at Pittodrie for the recent 2-2 draw with Rangers.
Cormack accepts a fundamental part of attracting more supporters is having a successful team. He insists the primary focus is on the football operation, despite the drive to engage fresh fans and also fund and deliver the proposed new stadium.
The football budget has increased by £1.5 million in the last year, up to £9.2m.
Cormack confirmed 100% of the supporter funding initiative AberDNA goes to the football operation, accounting for 7% of the £9.2m budget (£644,000).
Cormack confirmed 23% (£2.12m) of that £9.2m comes from season ticket sales. A further 12% (£1,104,000) comes from walk-ups to each game.
Cormack said: “Our core focus is to put a product on the pitch as not only have we delivered Cormack Park, we have also upped the football operation budget significantly over the last two to three years.”
US-based multi-millionaire software entrepreneur Cormack played a pivotal role in driving through the funding for the recently-opened £13m training complex at Kingsford.
Some fans had speculated Aberdeen could yet remain at Pittodrie by redeveloping the stadium. That will not happen.
Cormack confirmed Aberdeen will move to a new stadium, although he remains flexible on the timeframe for completion.
He insisted it would cost £50m to stay and redevelop Pittodrie, with investors for that unlikely.
Instead it will cost between £40m to £50m to build the new stadium, minus the funds raised from the sale of Pittodrie. Pittodrie was valued at £11m but the Reds will wait for an upturn in the city’s property market. But delivering the stadium will not be done to the detriment of the Dons’ talent on the pitch.
He said: “There is no point in us being 10th in the league and having a shiny new stadium. We aim to be in a new stadium where we can generate more revenue and get more supporters into that stadium.”