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New stadium can help Aberdeen shine more brightly

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Jim Spence | 23:07 UK time, Thursday, 24 February 2011

Aberdeen's new stadium could be the catalyst to lift the Dons into a new era of football success.
The artists' drawings for the new 21,000 capacity arena, which will glow red at night, look stunning and iconic.
Such a setting for football should prove attractive to would-be signings and will hopefully generate much bigger crowds for the club.
I have some great memories of Pittodrie and can recall travelling up on the school mini-bus from Dundee for the European Championship qualifier versus Belgium on 10 November 1971.
That night, in a packed crowd of 36.500, we shoehorned our way into a heaving Beach End, which was bouncing like the Kop in its heyday.

A 1-0 win for Scotland with a John O'Hare goal capped a great night and left a lasting impression on me as a young schoolboy, of a ground with a terrific atmosphere.

Dons fans have magnificent memories of the stadium in the glory years under Sir Alex Ferguson, when Europe's finest were regularly dismissed by a magnificent Aberdeen side.

And veteran Dons fans will recall the glory years of the fifties, when the record attendance of more than 45.000 watched a game versus Hearts.

But, built over a century ago, the old stadium (pictured) has run its race.

Memories are all well and good, but the world moves on and Aberdeen FC can take a huge leap forward with a new top-flight arena.

Building from scratch, the club will not be constricted like others have been.

The Dons won't be caught with the compromises that come with redeveloping a ground.

The stadium will shine like a beacon as the entry point to the city for those travelling from the south and should inspire fans and players alike.

It'll also, hopefully, be a good deal warmer than Pittodrie.

I have to admit as a Dundonian to being very envious of what Dons fans are going to enjoy.

Aberdeen as a club are showing a forward thinking vision that leaves both Dundee clubs in their wake.

Very shortly, with this terrific new stadium, Aberdeen may once again be leaving everyone in their wake on the field.


  • Comment number 1.

    Or it might be like St Mirren's new ground and they'll hardly ever win a game in it while battling relegation every year.

  • Comment number 2.

    Will be interesting to see what kind of crowds we get once the initial interest in the new stadium has subsided. Right now, most supporter's day out at the football is a chance to meet up with their pals, father etc., have a couple of pints before and after the game - the game itself is just part of most people's day. Okay, you could still do that, but you'd have to leave the city centre around two to get up to Cove for kick off, and I shudder to imagine the queues for buses up to the game, and the queues for public transport after when thousands are leaving at once are unthinkable.

    The location of the new stadium is out of the way for most people - especially the significant contingent of our core support, like myself from North of the city. I for one won't be renewing my season ticket and would be carefully picking and choosing which games I attend.

    I fear this new stadium could end up a white elephant.

  • Comment number 3.

    The sentiment is admirable Jim, and, as a non-old firm fan I would love to see any side provide a bit of competition to the top two.

    'Iconic' glowing red stadiums are one thing, filling them is another. As the first poster mentions, its all very well having a fantastic new stadium, but Aberdeen's crowds, just like every other club in Scotland, have slowly decreased season on season. Without a dramatic improvement in the playing staff I cannot see this changing just because the seats are more comfortable. Unfortuntaely, I might add.

  • Comment number 4.

    Can only see one problem with the artists impression of the new stadium - the seats seem to be facing the pitch... ah the old ones are the best!!

    Seriously, new stadia can act as a catalyst but it will only happen if there are things which attract people in (Aberdeen's silky football aside) and make the experience better eg affordable family access, integrated transport links etc.

    If Aberdeen set out with an approach designed to just re-coup the cost it will be something of a white elephant and I suspect would fail to pull in the second and third phases of development ie 3rd parties.

    A scenario I encounter every week - Dad would like to take his lads to the match but its too dear so he goes alone. Club get one entry, programme, hot drink etc and an empty stadium.

    If the club had a family policy and Dad and lads cost £5 more on entry the club gets the above plus £5, snacks, drinks, replica tops etc over the season and a much better atmosphere / fuller stadia. Instead the accountants worry about losing the gate money from the few youngsters who do go along. As a business you have to speculate to accumulate and unfortunately this has not been Aberdeen's policy to date.

    No doubt the new facilities will have a slot meter to operate the toaster!!

    I wish them luck - its time the remaining old stadia were brought up to a better level

  • Comment number 5.

    The numbers attending matches at Pittodrie next season will hopefully be a better barometer as it appears Craig Brown has arrested the slide which began under Jimmy and gathered pace under McGhee. As for my feelings on stadium its self, well all the artist impressions of it look fantastic if the final thing looks as good as them the word Iconic is certainly right. As a Dons fan my only moan is the new location as south of the city increases travel time to the thousands of Dons fans who live in the Towns and Villages to the north of the city. This gripe grow as it seem to be a move to designed to encourage away and as well saw with Hamilton’s visit the other night many just aren’t will to travel that distance to support their team.

  • Comment number 6.

    A new stadium and a new by-pass for Aberdeen in the same lifetime Jim!?

    Next they'll be ignoring the traffic lichties and painting the buildings in different colours to improve their mental health during the drab winters.

    Well maybe not. But while I do think the stadium drawings are very impressive and hope that it does act like a catalyst for pulling in more support in a one-team city, there must be an element of uncertainty when you move away from your home base and your core support which I always thought came more from the north of the city and the shire. Now a couple of extra gallons of the red diesel should get the tractors there eventually but the move must represent a risk of sorts for the club of actually filling the ground.

    Still you have to be optimistic about this and I hope it works out for them.

    But I feel you are stretching it a bit too far suggesting that Aberdeen might be leaving everyone else behind again on the park. Not unless they find another Fergie they won't.

  • Comment number 7.

    Can't wait for the day I can watch United hammer the Dons without destroying my ankles on that terracing.

    Ridiculous that they have been allowed to retain a step in the tread.

    The only other convered terracing I can think of in the SPL is the West Stand at Tannadice and the Far shyline stand at Fir Park, both of which have proper treads under the seats.

  • Comment number 8.

    OK so the artist's impression of the new stadium looks great but I can't see why building a new stadium will improve Aberdeen's fortunes on the field much... in the history of clubs who have moved grounds in Scotland there aren't many runaway success stories: St Johnstone would be the most obvious success... St Mirren, Hamilton, Clyde, Airdrie include a few horror stories of clubs who almost went out of business (or did) after moving ground. Pittodrie was close to the main streets in the city centre, not too far from the train station and bus station or from pubs, cafes, takeaways etc... easy to get to and find and with plenty of facilities nearby.

    What is it going to cost Aberdeen to build the new iconic stadium, or are they going to make so much money from the land where Pittodrie is that they'll be able to demolish one stadium and build another at no cost to the club?

    If Aberdeen are going to have to shell out millions to build the new stadium, how will that affect their already sky high debt and money available for improving the playing squad.

    Fans go to matches to enjoy watching good football players playing well or see a successful team win games and not to marvel at the architecture of the grounds!

    (Having said that during many a dull game at St Mirren Park it is nice to have the option of watching planes land or take off from nearby Glasgow Airport!)

  • Comment number 9.

    Good luck to them, I hope it works out. But does the positive of a smart new stadium ever outweigh the negative of moving away from a city centre(ish) location?

  • Comment number 10.

    I still can not get excited about this. I would be delighted if they had picked the site in town over this one out of the city. Had they chosen to build it in the one in town, which in my opinion was the only logical site of the two then I'd be over the moon right now. (Cove is actually much closer to me than Pittodrie, but the whole match day experiance /transport links will totally change for me personally with this move)

  • Comment number 11.

    Don't see how moving to a nice new stadium automatically means that the team will perform better and therefore more fans will turn out.

    The last two games at Pittodrie have attracted 7,700 approx and that's when the Dons are doing better.

    Who's paying for this ?
    Presumably it's the club as the council will be skint and presumably monies will come from the sale of Pittodrie where I imagine Mr. Milne will be building houses !!

  • Comment number 12.

    Strange one for me Jim. For Dons fans it is a hell of a trek up there from the city. You certainly would'nt walk it.

    Away fans coming from the south will find it is just off the A90 at the Harbour exit but there is nothing up there. No pubs etc.

    Surely match day is more than just the game. We get the train down from Moray, a couple of pints and lunch in the centre, then the bus down King Street. Used to walk but I'm getting old. Same on the way home.

    Imagine United relocating to the end of the Kingsway across from the Technology Park for example. It is a fair parallel with the Aberdeen plan. Shiny new stadium, great road access for away fans but nothing else.

  • Comment number 13.

    i hope only the best for aberdeen and scottish football as a whole.

    people should check out the following website about any potential for scotland to host a future European Championships. Aberdeen Arena is included in the discussion.

  • Comment number 14.

    I've been a supporter for going on 50 years. However I emigrated in '73 and only get to Pittodrie very rarely. My heart is at Pittodrie and the new stadium only gives me nightmares. I can get to Pittodrie from Oldmeldrum blindfolded but this new place... Its basically industrial with few facilities, its miles from anywhere and transportation is going to be a horror story.
    Stuartie Milne will get to build houses on the Pittodrie pitch, he'll make millions and millions and poor old AFC will be saddled with an unsurmountable debt and a non existent support.
    Coming soon to a bookshop near you, 'The Death of the Dons', by Stuart Milne.

  • Comment number 15.

    Agree totally. I can't see how it's ever a good idea to move a stadium outwith walking distance of a city/town centre. Even for those hardy souls who might fancy a walk up there, it's a good hours trek from the railway station and up a fairly severe hill too. Supporters who live in Kincorth should be happy though!

  • Comment number 16.

    @ Glen Haig

    I remember the 'Hands off Hibs' campaign when Tom Farmer stepped in to scupper Wallace Mercer. Now I have no wish to question his motives but his immediate response was to plan a new ground out at Straiton. Now a very busy retail park to the south of Edinburgh. The fans kicked that into the long grass. Of course Farmer owned the land.

    Stewart Milne, who happens to be a builder, may have his own agenda. You are right. The good folk of Kincorth will be chuffed. Mind you, if you are down at the bridge end, it is still a hell of a climb.

  • Comment number 17.

    It would be great for the game to see a strong Aberdeen, but a shiny new stadium won't automatically lead to a better team on the pitch.

    It could be that with the costs and upkeep involved in a new stadium, that even less will be spent on players. Unless of course, an extra 10,000 fans are suddenly going to appear at every home game. Not likely.

  • Comment number 18.

    Never mind a new stadium, when are Aberdeen going to tap into that oil money kicking about up north?

  • Comment number 19.

    "Memories are all well and good". Yes and so is having a shiny new stadium Jim but only if people turn up.

    Do SPL clubs have any idea of what affects the demand for football these days? Having a new ground certainly isn't one of them.

    Money and work should be done on filling the stadia. Fix the price of the game to be more affordable (take into account substitute leisure products). They are trying to attract transient fans not die hards (season ticket holders).

    The market size (determined by population) suggests here that population density goes down in the new location so 'crowding in' (seeing queues outside the arena) will diminish for the casual supporter.

    What you simply seem to be referring to Jim is the 'honeymoon effect' of fans sampling the new stadium. However, I would like to know if any club who have changed from inner city to suburb or out of town sites have increased their gate attendances?

  • Comment number 20.

    I don't buy it. I don't think the design of the new stadium to be anything other than predictably unimaginative. Where are the floodlights, the equivalent of the spire on a cathedral, drawing in people from miles around. The alleged cost? Well as the builder owns the club it could just as well be 300 million or 5 million it will cost. As no-one will ever know. It's going to glow red is it, so they are going to buy some bulbs from Halfords?
    Then there is dear old Pittodrie. The stadium was ruined 20 years ago with the building of The Dick Donald Stand. One of the worse pieces of wanton architectural vandalism I have ever seen. Twice as high as any other stand and behind a goal. Behind a goal. The corners were removed allowing that all important North Sea gale to whip in to destroy the atmosphere. And why could further 'super high' stands not be built to fit in with the Dick Donald Stand? Because the club didn't buy up the land around the stadium. A local builder did though...

  • Comment number 21.

    BaldyHibby, Straiton would have been walking distance for me. And even I would still much rather catch the bus to Easter Road too.

  • Comment number 22.

    #4 Agree with your points totally, but would add another. Kids not being taken regularly to the game will not have the habit formed when they get older, and the likelihood is that a large part of a future generation of fans will be lost.

    Out of town stadia are all very well if provision is made to give fans something more. In the US for example, most grid-iron stadia are built on greenfield sites, where there is lots of space available. Families turn up hours before the game with disposable barbecues, or picnic tables and chairs, and have a day out. OK, this probably wouldn't work in North-east Scotland, but just building a new ground and expecting fans to just carry on as if nothing has changed is not going to make a lot of difference. This would be a great opportunity for a club to take the lead and come up with some ideas to try and entice the whole family to come and support the team, not just the die-hards who'll turn up anyway. Sadly, their numbers are dwindling in tough economic times, and with the poor quality of entertainment on offer.

  • Comment number 23.

    The reality is Aberdeen have little choice other than locate to a new stadium. Pittodrie holds over 40 years of memories for me but it is well past its sell by date. To revamp the current stadium would take a great deal of capital expenditure which would only add to the Club's current high debt. My understanding is the club will sell the current ground (to the highest bidder) this will pay off the debt and provide part of the money for the new stadium. The additional money will come from the council providing the land (it will be a comunity stadium), various grants, sponsorship ie naming rights for the stadium and a long term loan similar to a mortgage secured agains the ground. The football side of the club should then be debt free (the loan on the stadium will be to a newly formed company who will be the stadium owners)this will release a considerable amount of money for the playing budget which is currently spent on the interest charges on the current debt.

    As to will more people go, if the team are doing well and start to reach finals again and win a cup every few years yes, otherwise move or stay and the answer is no.

  • Comment number 24.

    red rocker i have the same understanding of the finances as you, although it was only relaesed to the press once a long time ago. just hope the whole of aberdeen benefits for the money they put in. community funded stadiums might be an important part in saving our club game. teams can't affort to build stadia of their own to be competititve. furthermore having council owned grounds reduces debt as clubs have less to borrow against.whatever way forward we decide on it has to be a humble within our means one. glory chasing is thinking with your heart (and possibly greed) not your head.

  • Comment number 25.

    As a regular at Pittodrie for 48 of my 52 years I can't wait for the new stadium.
    It's not an ideal location for me but let's stop the whining of where it will be and look forward to a great new beginning for the club infrastructure wise and hope that it also helps to make things better on the field.
    Haven't stopped laughing at the United fan complaining about the terracing in the South Stand. Hasving been to Tannadice more times than your average Arab, kettle and pot springs to mind. In any event there are five seats for every Dundee Utd supporter who comes to the away section.

  • Comment number 26.

    Super blog from on a proper football man - you must be lonely at the Beeb Jim! Is Scottie stll on the naughty step? Super Stadium - worst of locations. Planners confirm only around 3000 fans will be able to park there by car, assuming 3 per car! Sadly the club have moved on the back of 18% approval rating - any move is better than no move? I think not. Oh for a modern day Chris Anderson......

  • Comment number 27.

    Enjoyed reading your article Jim on our some time in future to be built Stadium,if it takes as long to come to fruition as our long awaited By Pass around Aberdeen which if this Stadium is going to be viable will have to be completed first,as a huge part of the Dons support hail from North and West of the city and trying to negotiate the Bridge of Don and the Bridge of Dee will certainly be a challenge to the Club to get crowds along to the matches,the fare on field will have to be something of a consistently high quality to achieve that.
    Supporters from the South will be the winners in this,but the City will lose out in the trade from away support and out of town Dons Fans as when I travel to Dundee or Perth and Edinburgh my Wife and daughters take the chance of coming down and shopping while I walk to the matches though I admit since St Johnstone moved out to edge of town I have only made it down twice taking a bus from town centre.
    As for this site being warmer than Pittodrie dont bank on it as I have stood at Allan Park in Cove and find it is just as cold.

  • Comment number 28.

    I worry about the new location.

    Perhaps I've lost the right to opine, as it's 15 years since I lived in Scotland (and was a Pittodrie season ticket holder for 20 years), but the location worries me. No pubs, no match day atmosphere. The correct location was Kingswells, but the NIMBY crowd got in the way.

    No coincidence that Pa Broon's contract runs to the proposed stadium date. His job is to steady the ship.

    I'm due to be back living in the Granite City in 2012, I'll buy a season ticket for the first year at the new stadium, and probably for life. I´m an Aberdeen supporter for life, but it does worry me that youngsters might not want the hassle of an out of town stadium. Transport links are key, local government does not inspire.

  • Comment number 29.

    The Dons do need to move as Pittoders is now past its sell by date, however the biggest problems with the new stadium is the location linked to ridiculous imposed planning conditions on parking. The council/scottish government is restricting parking to max 1400 spaces. Lets assume average 3 per car = 4200 people. That means on average gates(in normal seasons!) 8000 getting by other means. Given there is no public transport option and that its not close to other places to park, that means a fleet of up to 80 busses of 100 seats! Just about do-able before the game (maybe) but how long will it take to get out afterwards - not to mention when larger crowds are there?!

    There needs to be a sensible parking allocation allowed.

  • Comment number 30.

    Great news for Aberdeen,however they will never fill it.The average home attendance is less than 10,000.Playing the quality of teams from the SPL such as Inverness CT,Kilmarnock,St Johnstone twice a year at home is not good box office.

  • Comment number 31.

    Just completed the bbc satisfaction survey that pops up from time to time. Largely positive I have to say but my negative comments were reserved the way its blogs get managed. The best blogs are kept topical and don't labour the point. This blog is a case in point - 6 posts in six days, all basically saying the same thing ie wrong location, poor planning etc. If the bbc want to compete with the other blog space, and there's plenty, then there needs to be a feeling that the blogger is working the blog. I joked the last time about Jim being on holiday but I notice all the regular posters cropping up on other blogs. This is one of the better blogs but it needs to be better managed -Was a top 6 performer but In danger of dropping into the relegation zone right now!!

  • Comment number 32.


    Would agree with much of what you say.

    Think the Aberdeen's new stadium blog was blogged out some time ago.

  • Comment number 33.

    Agree entirely Uriah. The bold Jim throws something out there and then is marked absent. I too have commented on this in the past. It is in direct contrast to John Beattie's funny ball blog. He is directly involved moving the topic along as comments are made.

    Bit of a shame as several cogent points have been made above and not just from the ' usual suspects ' amongst whom I include myself. This is an important issue, for Dons fans in particular, although the prospect of out-of-town stadia merits further discussion. Pity it died off.

  • Comment number 34.

    I agreed that the blog had died and then came the most interesting point.

    If #29 is correct and parking is limited to 1400 spaces with no alternative then surely it defeats the object of having an out of town stadium?
    I assumed that the whole point was to attract fans who could drive to the ground as there was no public transport.

    If this situation remains the same Aberdeen will be the loser as fans won't attend,remember not all visiting fans travel by supporters buses.
    How shortsighted of the club to create a white elephant before it's built.
    Let's hope this is resolved.

  • Comment number 35.

    Talking rubbish again Jim!

  • Comment number 36.

    Maybe a bright spark should start a new blog discussion as the blog is dead and unattended.

  • Comment number 37.

    ZZZzzzzz ZZZzzzzzz.... Ho Hum.

    Might pop back in a few days

  • Comment number 38.

    Jim must be waiting for the outcome of todays meeting between the publicity seeking politicians and the " it's not our fault we can't control crime" police with the "evil" that is Celtic & Rangers & football authorities before starting a new blog.

    Certainly needs to light on something with a bit of interest.

  • Comment number 39.

    Morbhoy you are forgetting about thee most hated man in Scottish football, public enemy No.1, Neil 'Dr Evil' Lennon!!!

    I am of course being deliberately tongue-in-cheek but I felt the need to state this before someone has a go.

  • Comment number 40.

    Morbhoy - He's probably having a long lie as he was working at the Dons / Utd match last night. Two consecutive days is probably not in the job description. Clearly there is not a forthcoming election for sports journalists or like the current lot in Holyrood he would already be on the campaign trail. This week has even been fertile ground for ex-politicians, general do-gooders, the church and of course the media - well it easier than going out and drumming up a real exclusive.... or thinking up a decent blog topic. Now let me think - anything interesting happening this week? Nah - lets stick for 10 days with the new Aberdeen, plan for a plan for a plan stadium that might / may happen.

  • Comment number 41.

    Well given the events of the past week there are only a few candidates for a new blog:

    - Will Raith Rovers Reach the SPL

    - Calderwood Revitalises the Hibees

    - Dundee Utd Make a Profit

    It must be one slow week. Not much has happened!

  • Comment number 42.

    Aaaah a man takes a wee holiday and the brickbats come flying in. What's the world coming too.

    Once I've finished prep for tonight's Beyond the SPL I'll give you my final thoughts on the Dons move and move on to a fresh blog.....I particularly like Rob04's suggestion on Raith reaching the SPL.

    Watch this space

  • Comment number 43.

    Come on Jim that was tongue in cheek!!!!!

  • Comment number 44.


    I just assumed you being man of wide ranging interests in the game meant it.

  • Comment number 45.

    Nice one Jim!!

  • Comment number 46.

    The Aberdeen public in recent years has shown that for various reasons, they are bored senseless with the Old Firm and the SPL in general - not an unusual position to be in, in Scottish football. Although average attendances held up reasonably well (around 12,000 or so) when Calderwood was manager, the slump under McGhee allied to wider economic issues in the last couple of years has seen attendances drop. Mind you, when playing in Europe in 2007/08, attendances (BBC figures) for home games were:

    v Dnipro 15,431
    v Lokomotiv Moscow 18,843
    v Copenhagen 20,446
    v Bayern Munich 20,047

    So as the games got more important and interesting, Pittodrie was filled. The new stadium will also be filled *if* the team is playing games that appeal to the local public. That's the problem. Games v the Old Firm that will always be on TV somewhere won't fill Pittodrie (these games also just show the gulf in spending between the top two and everyone else). Games v the rest of the SPL won't fill Pittodrie either...

  • Comment number 47.

    Nice sentiment but the Scottish game is in terminal decline. More people in Scotland probably watch the EPL now: I certainly know several Scottish people who have an EPL team and no SPL one.

    With the SPL's blinkered decision to take a step back to 10 teams, supporter interest will only fall. New ground or no new ground, there's no going back to the Golden Eighties for Aberdeen. Sky money has seen to that.

  • Comment number 48.

    Will they get 21,000 fans though?

  • Comment number 49.

    Lets start a wee book...

    Jim's off on the sick 3/1
    Beyond the SPL is mega good after all this time and work 100/1
    Another wee holiday 2/1
    The guy who does the typing for Jim off sick 1/5

    Perhaps a new journalist or two

    "could be the catalyst to lift the" BBC "into a new era of football (blogging) success".

    Brickbat ........ Whack!


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