Aberdeen's new stadium timeline revealed and what next for Pittodrie

Pittodrie has witnessed many a special night in Aberdeen’s long and illustrious history, none more so than on the European stage.

Hamburg, Feyenoord and Bayern Munich were all defeated at the stadium in the 1980s as the club enjoyed success on the continent. More recently, a 4-0 thumping of Copenhagen in 2007 is still remembered very fondly.

In 2022, there is still something special about Pittodrie. The ground itself may have disparate parts but it remains unique. There is the Richard Donald Stand which towers over the pitch and the three other stands, including the old Main Stand. While the perimeter fence which separates the home and away fans in the South Stand is something of a throwback. Then the area between South and Merkland Stands where supporters get an excellent vantage point to peer across the ground, albeit exposed to the elements, is a key feature of match days. On the outside, there is a mix of old and new with the stadium facade, including the iconic stone turnstiles.

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Despite all that charm and warmth, it is clear Pittodrie, which has been Aberdeen's home ever since the club was founded in 1903, has entered its final years and doesn’t feature in the long-term plans of the Dons.

Next stage

A new ground, as part of a city renovation of the beachfront, is an important ambition for the club. One which, it is thought, will help take the club onto the next level, opening up opportunities for increased revenue and possibilities.

With such an undertaking, there are a number of hurdles still to cross, the next of which is expected to be a vote next month by the Aberdeen City Council to decide whether to go to the next stage.

"What we’re focused on just now is working with the city council and this is the best relationship the football club have had with the city council in decades,” Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack told The Scotsman.

Pittodrie has been Aberdeen's home since the club was founded in 1903. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

"The club’s been looking for a new stadium location for 20 years. It’s the right thing we remain at the beach. It wasn’t available before.

"I think all the key parties want a city centre masterplan where everyone is living and breathing again in the city centre and then there is this boulevard open to the public with investment down at the beach and the Beach Ballroom renovated with the stadium next to it. I think everyone in the city is on the same page.

“We are working with the city council to come up with a plan to get that executed.

“The next stage is a full business plan which means the club would have to spend significant money to come up with the full plan. What we don’t want to do is a half-baked job. There has got to be a proper business plan.”

Dons fans in the Red Shed. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Timescale and funding

It is a project which Cormack admitted keeps him up at night and one which could cost the club £75million going by recent projections with cost of construction having “gone through the roof” due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

There is a clear ambition and desire to see it through and have it delivered with Cormack “quietly confident” it can happen sooner rather than later, with “significant investment" required, some of which will be delivered through the sale of Pittodrie and the potential selling of naming rights.

"One of the biggest challenges is the cost of construction but that should balance itself out over the next couple of years," he said.

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack hopes to move the club to a new stadium within the next four to six years. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

“The fact it is going to be a net zero stadium brings attractiveness to potential stadium naming rights plus we’re going to need to find significant investment as well.

"We think it is the right thing to do for Aberdeen Football Club. We want to win stuff each season but in five, six years from now, if we’ve got a stadium and a training ground that sets us up for the next 100 years that is important for the football club too.

“Clearly we are landlocked at Pittodrie. The £12-£14million we might get for Pittodrie is going to be critical to go towards the new stadium.

"At a new stadium it will unlock the opportunity for us to deliver significantly more income in terms of corporate, restaurant etc.

"I’m quietly confident, again we are reliant on others, that if we get the go ahead with this it is going to be four, five, six seasons, I’d like to see us in a new stadium.”

Pittodrie future

In the meantime, Aberdeen will continue to engage with different fan groups at Pittodrie to make it a welcoming and enjoyable place to visit with a positive match-day experience.

That includes a desire to work with fans in the Red Shed who create much of the atmosphere. The club are constrained in some instances by authorities but the club are keen to encourage a dialogue regarding game day displays.

"In terms of reinvesting in the new stadium, doing maintenance where we need to do it but also fan engagement experience,” Cormack said.

"We are probably going to plan for every home Saturday game to do the Beach Ballroom experience, which went down extremely well towards the end of the season.

"We’re looking at doing stuff in the concourse inside of the Richard Donald Stand and potentially outside from a marquee perspective. Everything we are trying to do fan engagement wise is to make it attractive to be there in terms of young kids, families, the Red Shed where your average age is late 20s as opposed to average age of season ticket holders is about 40.”

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