Date: 27th January 2009 at 5:39pm
Written by:

It would appear the re-location of Aberdeen Football Club is on its way, with the Club having spent over 100 years at Pittodrie. Plans are already well under way for a new Community Stadium in the City of which AFC would be the main tenant.

Pittodrie`s South, Merkland and Main Stands are ageing rapidly and may need replaced or dramatically repaired within a decade. Due to the fact that these Stands are land-locked, there is no viable way of re-developing them without significant reduction in capacity. The redevelopment of Pittodrie would cause other problems too: construction work may require some home matches to be played in far flung locations (most likely Dundee or Inverness). While £15m would be the cost of re-development. Re-location is inevitable.

A new Community Stadium in the City would be paid for 50:50 by the Council and Aberdeen FC (8M each estimate) while the rest would be paid for through Stadium revenues, planning gain and perhaps funding from the Scottish Executive, if a bid for Euro 2016 were to go ahead. The Stadium would be more than a football ground: the plan is to create a facility that the City can be proud of, with educational, social, recreational and employment benefits. Other options being considered are offices, hotels, restaurants and a football academy for the North East.

The two sites currently being considered are Loriston Loch, Cove and Kings Links with Bridge of Don and Calder Park being discarded as unfeasible.

All of this sounds good. Not that AFC has much choice. Pittodrie does not have a long term future while the Club could not afford the £53 Million Stadium (estimate) without funding help from the cities already cash-strapped council.

However there are certain things the Aberdeen board have to be careful with, in my opinion, when delivering the new stadium if they want to assure it has atmosphere, supporter satisfaction and does not negatively affect attendances.

a) To ensure a good atmosphere the stands should be close to the pitch and steep, while bowl shaped designs should be avoided and corner stands minimal. Perhaps singing sections is another idea worth looking into. This would give the Stadium character and atmosphere, a necessity which is sadly lacking in some of the bland, soulless new stadiums ; examples include Falkirk and Livingston with more south of the border.

b) The location will have to be carefully considered. For example ; it should be inside the city`s boundaries, as a move outside the city would not have council funding and may have a negative effect on attendances (It was rumoured the Club had looked at land outside the city as a back-up plan).

c) The stadium should be modern without being ultra-commercialised. It is first and foremost the home of AFC, any hotels, offices, etc should not impact the feeling that this is primarily a football ground.

Regretfully, Pittodrie is coming to the end of its lifespan. And those whose job it is should be cautious when deciding upon the location and design of the new home of AFC.