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Arena Community Stadium

 

A community stadium development (Arena) for AberdeenCity could be built near Loirston Loch, Cove.

 

Reports published today reveal partners investigating the possibility of creating a stadium and associated facilities in Aberdeen have made significant progress.

 

The Arena Project Team formed jointly by Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeen Football Club will present an Outline Business Case for a stadium and ask Councillors to promote Loirston as the preferred site for development.

 

Members will also be asked to give the green light for further development work on the Arena project and back in principle a joint venture as a means of delivery.

 

If built, the Arena would become home to Aberdeen Football Club, a proposed venture partner as well as lead tenant. Officers recommend a 22,000-seat stadium, potentially rising to 30,000 seats, depending on the availability of financial support from the Scottish Government.

 

Officers say sports and leisure developments, such as a community stadium, can play a major role in the successful future of both the city and region.

 

In her report to next week's Council meeting, Head of Planning and Infrastructure, Margaret Bochel, writes: "Development of the Arena Community Stadium will ensure that Aberdeen is acknowledged as a competitive, dynamic and vibrant place to live and work.

 

"The stadium could provide the opportunity to deliver objectives in the Regeneration Strategy, such as developing priority social, economic and environmental projects.

 

"Such a facility would be a major addition to the infrastructure of the city, helping increase participation in sport and encouraging a healthy lifestyle across all sectors of the community."

 

The report will go before Council on December 19.

 

Aberdeen FC's social, economic and cultural role

 

The benefits Aberdeen enjoys as a result of being home to a top division professional football club cannot be underestimated.

 

An economic impact analysis completed in 2006 determined that Aberdeen FC contributes at least £6 million per year to the local economy. The club also supports a total of 350 full time equivalent jobs.

 

Meanwhile, the Dons' community programme is recognised as the best in Scotland - having won the Community Club of the year award every year it has been judged.

 

Shell, Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray Councils, The Scottish Football Association, Grampian Fire and Rescue Service, npower, Macdonalds and the Food Standards Agency all support the programme, demonstrating an existing successful partnership between the club, business and the public sector.

 

Pittodrie Stadium

 

Redevelopment of Pittodrie Stadium to meet future needs is not viable.

 

The pitch width and run off areas currently do not meet UEFA standards and the pitch fails to comply with International Rugby Board specifications, meaning it cannot host regular full internationals.

 

As the ground is landlocked, with the exception of the Richard Donald Stand, the best way these issues could be accommodated at the present stadium is to redevelop the Main and South stands to a smaller footprint. These stands, along with the Merkland Road end, are all in relatively poor condition and will require to be completely redeveloped over the next 5?8 years.

 

Taking all of the above into account, there would be a substantial reduction in the stadium's capacity and a major impact on corporate facilities and accommodation, reducing the club's capacity to generate revenue.

 

As the city has no alternative stadium available to Aberdeen Football Club, redevelopment would either take a number of years or require the club to play matches at a remote location - most likely Dundee or Inverness.

 

No European matches could be played within the City during this period of redevelopment and would have to be played in Central Scotland.

 

Eventually, Pittodrie would be left with a capacity of around 15,000, achieved at a cost of around £15million to the club.

 

This would preclude Aberdeen and the region from any involvement in hosting major European and international matches and the city would rule itself out of participating in the hosting of competitions such as the Rugby World Cup or the European Football Championship.

 

A redeveloped Pittodrie would also be unable to accommodate community facilities that would be a significant part of any new stadium.

 

Community Stadium model

 

A community stadium is a partnership-funded initiative that integrates sports and community facilities into a single high quality venue.

 

It should be the home to as many sports clubs and organisations as possible and provide a sport focus for the region whilst maximising the use of accommodation under stands.

 

In Aberdeen, it is suggested that any community stadium could be combined with a football academy for the North East of Scotland and complement the Regional Community Sports facility currently under development at Linksfield.

 

The case for a community stadium in Aberdeen

 

Reports due before members note that the effects of new stadia - and, in particular, community stadia - in British cities have been universally positive, providing major economic and social regeneration opportunities.

 

As with many of these projects, the Arena in Aberdeen is proposed to be much more than a sporting facility. If built, it would raise the city's profile in the eyes of potential investors; link to regeneration strategies in terms of employment, health and fitness, and enhance commercial activity.

 

The Arena also has the potential to deliver high quality architecture, adding to the cultural richness of AberdeenCity and Shire.

 

Officers say design should be of the highest quality - providing a lasting legacy for the citizens of Aberdeen and a development the city can take pride in.

 

In short, the aspiration is to create a facility that is much more than simply a football stadium and can be developed as an educational, training, social, recreational, employment and community hub in use seven days a week for the benefit of the region.

 

The venue would play a major part in further establishing the City and Shire on the national and international map.

 

The results of a City Voice questionnaire revealed overwhelming public support for a community stadium in Aberdeen. Nearly three quarters of those asked were in favour of the project.

 

Delivery

 

The current proposal has been developed in partnership with Aberdeen Football Club, which has provided 50% of all funding. It is envisaged that a joint venture between the club and Council would deliver the Arena, via a stadium management company.

 

The Arena would be home to the Dons, who would act as lead tenant. The development would also provide the opportunity for approximately 150,000 sq ft (14,000 sq m) of floor space for rent, which could include office, retail, hotel, sports, leisure and community facilities.

 

The capitalised rental from these uses would contribute to the overall cost of construction.

 

Capacity

 

The capacity of any new stadium should be sufficient to meet market demand and also allow for future growth.It is also essential that any new stadium be capable of expansion or conversion to host international events.

 

With this in mind, the outline business case has been developed on the principle of a capacity of 22,000 - in line with the present capacity at Pittodrie.

 

However, it is also recommended that the Scottish Government be approached to determine the likelihood of Scotland hosting international competition in the future.

 

If, for example, Scotland were to launch a bid to host the 2016 European Championships, it is likely that a minimum capacity of 30,000 would be required to allow Aberdeen to participate.

 

As neither the City Council or Aberdeen FC could justify the cost associated with providing 8,000 additional seats; it is suggested partners approach the Scottish Government to determine whether there is a real ambition to host such events and discuss the likelihood of contributions to fund the additional infrastructure.

 

Costs

 

The Outline Business case suggests the project could cost in the region of £53 million at today's prices - with suggested Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeen Football Club contributions at £8 million each.

 

The remaining funding could be realised through stadium revenues, development and planning gain.

 

It must be stressed, however, that these figures are indicative only. Further detailed feasibility is required to ascertain the total level of investment required to deliver the Arena, including assessment of other users and potential partners.

 

Site

 

The Arena Project Team originally looked at four potential locations - at King's Links, Bridge of Don, CalderPark and Loirston.

 

The Outline Business Case eliminates the Bridge of Don site due to existing commitment, site capacity and access issues.The CalderPark site is also eliminated due to existing power lines and pylons running along the south side of the site.

 

The sites at King's Links and Loirston remain as options, with officers recommending Loirston following a detailed comparison of planning issues, site assessment, access and deliverability.

 

Commenting on the above, AFC's Managing Director Duncan Fraser said, "There has been a huge amount of work undertaken behind the scenes by the partners in the Arena initiative in recent times, particularly in the last six months and it's a true example of a partnership working towards the greater good of the City & Shire.

 

"Now that a preferred site has been identified and a vehicle to deliver the project outlined and funding options, the hard work now begins.

 

"We look forward to working closely with the Council and other key stakeholders over the coming period, during which time there will undoubtedly be difficult decisions to make and massive challenges to be met. However the end goal here must surely be to overcome any difficulties we face and deliver a community stadium that will showcase the area as the most forward thinking in the country."

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Sounds fair enough to me, get on with it lads!

 

Yup.  I'm not surprised the chosen location is Cove as it fits in with the regeneration plans - that and the fact the site at the beach is beset with niggly planning and legal issues which would be difficult to get round.

 

All sounds very promising. 

 

Just out of interest, does anybody know if will we be able to put £8 Million towards the development as well as wiping out our debt from the sale of pittodrie?

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Yup.  I'm not surprised the chosen location is Cove as it fits in with the regeneration plans - that and the fact the site at the beach is beset with niggly planning and legal issues which would be difficult to get round.

 

All sounds very promising. 

 

Just out of interest, does anybody know if will we be able to put £8 Million towards the development as well as wiping out our debt from the sale of pittodrie?

 

I'm sure i read something about pittodrie being revalues around the time of the financial report coming out.  it seemed to say the land was worth £20 million now, assuming our dept is still around the 12 million mark id doubt contributing 8 million to the new stadium would be too much of a stumbling block!

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The name 'Aberdeen Arena' - good.

 

The capacity '22k with room to expand to 30k' - good.

 

A community stadium outside the city - bad.

 

Build it at Kings Links where the people can see it, can walk to/from it and it can be used during the week then you're onto a winner.

 

Agree totally but id doubt the squad of NIMBY's would warm to it any more than in the past!

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Agree totally but id doubt the squad of NIMBY's would warm to it any more than in the past!

 

Would there be anyone to complain though?

 

All the local businesses would be happy, and the people who live in the area can't exactly say they don't want a football stadium near their homes because there's one there already. All the existing golf facilities would be relocated, so no harm?

 

Cove's fine with me though, it's close enough to the city centre, easy to get to, plenty of bus routes to go up that way, potential for a rail link and keeps the huns out of the city centre with a bit of luck.

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But for a community stadium, you'd sort of want it on your doorstep so it's easily accessible for your whole community.

 

Take the kids training schemes for instance, it's going to mean Mum or Dad have to drive them to Cove instead of them possibly making their own way there.

 

That's hardly going to get your kids from council estates involved and the greatest footballer to come out of Aberdeen grew up on one.

 

Good for away fans but, well, fuck them.

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TBH in my view that is all a pretty positive article.

Like so many others I don't really want to leave our home, but it is the only practical way forward.

On a selfish note, got to say relocating to Cove would cetainly knock some time of my travelling time for home games

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ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT STADIUM

 

12:00 - 12 December 2007

 

Why build it at Loirston?

 

It is easily accessible from the south of the city, which means visiting fans would not need to go through Aberdeen to get to games. Links to the Western Peripheral Route and Park and Ride would also make access easier than if it was in the heart of the city.

 

The site also offers the opportunity to build an "iconic gateway" for visitors to Aberdeen.

 

What will the stadium's capacity be?

 

The one planned will seat 22,000, in line with the present capacity at Pittodrie. But there is the option to increase that to 30,000 if the Scottish Government feel that is necessary for Aberdeen to be included as part of any bid to host major international tournaments in the future.

 

When would it open?

 

If everything goes to plan, the stadium could be in place for the start of the 2011-2012 football season.

 

How much will it cost?

 

At today's prices, the estimated cost of building a stadium of this size is £53m.

 

Will the Dons make a contribution to the cost?

 

The club and council will each contribute a minimum of £8m each.

 

The remainder will be raised from supporting developments, such as a hotel and conference facilities, plus branding of the actual name of the stadium.

 

The Dons and council will also contribute £300,000 each to carry out a detailed feasibility study if they get the all clear on December 19.

 

Who will build the stadium?

 

If will be put out to tender and the net would be cast wide to find the someone with a proven record of success when it comes to building modern sporting arenas.

 

Who apart from the Dons would get to use the new stadium?

 

It would be the home to as many sports clubs and organisations as possible.

 

There could also be scope to build a smaller stadium within the site that could be used by Highland League side Cove Rangers or could host other sports, such as rugby.

 

What will happen to the Pittodrie site?

 

It will be sold to the best bidder to raise funds for the club's contribution to the costs of the new arena. The Pittodrie site was recently valued at £20m.

 

Will it be based on any existing stadium designs?

 

No, it is hoped that architects will come up with a design unique to Aberdeen.

 

The success of new stadiums built at Falkirk, Huddersfield, Hull, Coventry and Swansea has been looked at.

 

As the report says, it is hoped the one built at Loirston will "provide a lasting legacy for the citizens of Aberdeen" and "establish the City and Shire on the national and international map."

 

EDIT: Duncan Fraser answered these questions.

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On a serious note, why don't AFc contact "the Donald" and see if he'd put his hand in his pocket to help "local" community sport in the City.

 

Reassure him we're nae all white-settlers wi poncy ideas?

 

Thats an excellent idea, i'm sure the possibility of a local hotel or something to tie into the stadium complex could at least be sounded out!

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Don't understand the thinking behind "it'll be easier for visiting fans" to get to.  If you want the city to reap the benifits then surely you want people coming to the city and spending money.

 

The buses will just stop further south and get fed and watered in outside of the city whilst the buses refuel elsewhere.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if a few bars close as a result.

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