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Pittodrie Stadium is a football stadium situated in the Scottishmarker city of Aberdeenmarker. It was first used in 1899 and from 1903 has been the home of Aberdeen FC. Since then it has been the location of a number of firsts in the field of stadium design, notably becoming one of the first all-seater stadia in the United Kingdommarker. It is now one of the largest football stadia in Scotland and has a seating capacity of 22,199; only Hampdenmarker, Parkheadmarker and Ibroxmarker are larger. In addition to its main duty of hosting home matches for Aberdeen FC it has been the venue for a number of Scottish international matches and occasional games of rugby. It can also be used for concerts. Away from the playing surface, there are a number of conference and dining facilities located within the stadium and a club shop.

History

Pittodrie’s original tenants were Aberdeen, a precursor to Aberdeen FC, which along with other local clubs Victoria United and Orion amalgamated on 18 April 1903. Having previously played their football at various venues within the city, a former dung hill for police horses was chosen by Aberdeen to be cleared and readied for football on 1st of February 1, 1899. The land was leased from Mr Knight Erskine of Pittodrie with an agreement to construct a terrace on what is now the site of the Richard Donald Stand. On the 2nd of September 1899 the first game was played in the new home, known then as Pittodrie Park; a 7–1 win over Dumbarton. On the 15th August 1903, 8000 spectators turned up to watch the new Aberdeen FC draw 1–1 against Stenhousemuir, the first game played at Pittodrie by its amalgamated tenants.

Increasing popularity of the team and rising attendances lead to continued construction on Pittodrie, and a number of football firsts throughout the years. Aberdeen FC purchased the ground they had been leasing, with the final payment made on the 1st December 1920. In 1925 the Main Stand, where the club offices, dressing rooms and trophy room are located, was constructed. Also the 1920’s the dugout was introduced to football by coach Donald Coleman, who was interested in sitting lower to the pitch in order to inspect the players' footwork.

After the Second World War the team won its first trophy, a Scottish Cup victory, and with increased success came more additions to Pittodrie. The record attendance occurred on the 13th March 1954, when 45,061 spectators turned up for a Scottish Cup match between Aberdeen and Heart of Midlothian. Floodlights were introduced at Pittodrie on the 21st October 1959, when Luton Town were beaten 3–2 in a friendly. By the 1st August 1968 the Main Stand had become all-seated as part of a £100 000 improvement of the ground. This coincided with a change of name from Pittodrie Park to Pittodrie Stadium. However, misfortune was to befall the upgraded stand. On the 6th of February 1971 a fire destroyed part of the Main Stand, and gutted the dressing rooms and club offices. The Scottish Cup – held by Aberdeen at the time – had to be rescued by firemen.
Detail of the granite façade of the Merkland Stand


On the 1st of July 1979 Pittodrie became the first planned all-seated stadium in Great Britain after the south terracing, known locally as 'the ground', was fitted with bench style seating. (Clydebank had done something similar two years before as a response to being promoted to the Premier Division.) This improvement predated the Taylor Report on British football grounds by eleven years and coincided with a distinct upturn in the fortunes of the home team. The south side became the South Stand in 1980, following the installation of a cantilever roof which covered most of the seats, and enabled Aberdeen to claim the title of Britain's first all-seated, all-covered ground, even if spectators at the ends of the South Stand were still somewhat exposed to the elements.

Both during the subsequent run in the eighties and at numerous other times over the century the stadium has been in operation, there have been many memorable nights for the local fans. However, Pittodrie’s greatest night is generally regarded as 16 March 1983. Aberdeen fought back from 2–1 down in a European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final second leg tie against top Germanmarker team FC Bayern Munich to win 3–2. A full house witnessed this victory take the Dons through to the semi-finals, en route to capturing the trophy itself.

The most recent development of the stadium came in 1993 when the Beach End stand on the east side of the ground was demolished with the new Richard Donald stand constructed in its place. On the 1st August 1993 the new stand was opened with a League Cup tie against Clydebankmarker. It is currently the only two tier stand in the stadium and many Aberdeen FC supporters would argue it lacks the character of the old Beach End stand. The stadium has remained relatively unchanged since then, although some minor improvements, such as the introduction of an electronic stadium entry system for the 2006–07 season, have been carried out.

The site of the stadium is only 500m away from the North Seamarker, and with only the King's Links golf course between the stadium and the beach, the ground is one of the coldest football grounds in Britain.

In November 2008 Pittodrie hosted a rugby union international between Scotland and Canada, with Scotland winning comfortably 41-0.
centre


The Stands

Map of the four stands

Main Stand

As the name suggests, the Main Stand was the original grandstand within the ground, and contains much of the staff and offices responsible for the day-to-day running of the stadium, from the boot room to the trophy room. Teams enter the pitch from a tunnel to the extreme left of this stand. As befits a main stand, this section of the ground includes both padded seating for club officials and VIP's, and several executive boxes at the rear. There are a number of pillars running along this stand, supporting the roof. As a consequence, views in some places are restricted. It remains, however, the most expensive stand from which to watch matches. To the east of the Main Stand is the club shop, which doubles as a ticket office. Another Aberdeen club shop is to be found on Bridge Street, in the city centre.

Merkland Stand

Taking its name from the street behind it, the Merkland Stand (Also known as the paddock) sits behind the goal, on the west of the ground. The Merkland is Aberdeen FC’s family stand, with reduced prices for under twelves and families. There is also a section for disabled supporters near the pitch. The stand itself is a covered enclosure, with two pillars supporting the roof. The entrance to the stand is dominated by a façade constructed from granite, a local stone. (See above, in history section.)

Richard Donald Stand

This stand is named after former club chairman Richard ‘Dick’ Donald. Completed in 1993 it houses over 6,000 fans, although this is a reduction on its Beach End predecessor. It is a cantilever construction with two tiers and a row of twelve executive boxes in between. It was built by the present chairman’s construction firm, the Stewart Milne Group, at a cost of £4.5 million. Within this stand are a number of banqueting rooms, which are used for corporate hospitality and outside bookings.



South Stand

Named simply after its position within the ground, the South Stand was originally an undeveloped embankment which was later remodeled as a standing terrace. Seating and a cantilever roof were later added, although some of the 8,400 seats remain uncovered. Since 1993 the easternmost part of the stand has been used to house away fans. Sections P, Q and R are designated for this purpose, however for matches against the Old Firm this increases to sections S and T and beyond if needed, stretching to the halfway line. The television gantry and commentary positions are housed in this stand.

Groundsharing

As a result of a groundsharing agreement Pittodrie was used by Inverness Caledonian Thistle for their home matches during the early part of the 2004–05 season. This was required because ICT's own Caledonian Stadiummarker did not meet the requirements for entry into the Scottish Premier League until improvements were carried out and the seating capacity increased. In 2005 the stadium size criterion for entry to the SPL was reduced to 6,000, thereby allowing Inverness Caledonian Thistle to return to their home stadium partway during the season.

Future developments

Despite improvements and its ground-breaking past, it appears that the future of Pittodrie as a football stadium is uncertain. Plans are in action for the club to move to a New Aberdeen Stadiummarker. The principle of a move, rather than a redevelopment of Pittodrie, has already been recommended by Aberdeen City Council. A copy of the report in PDF format can be found here. The venue for such a new stadium is likely to be close to the current ground. An earlier plan to move to the edge of the city, which corresponded with Scotland’s failed joint bid for the Euro 2008 tournament, has been scrapped.

In June 2006, the club's two major shareholders agreed a plan to sell the land on which the stadium sits to clear some of the club’s debt.

International matches at Pittodrie

Since its construction, there have been twelve Scottish international matches staged at Pittodrie. Normally, these matches are played at Hampden Parkmarker in Glasgowmarker. However, during times of redevelopment of the national stadium, or matches which are expected to draw a low crowd, the Scottish Football Association has made use of other stadia in the country. Playing at Pittodrie, Scotland have won eight matches, drawn two and lost two.


































* This team was picked by what is now the Football Association of Northern Ireland, The Irish Football Association. However, at this time they continued to pick players from throughout Ireland despite partition. The new Football Association of Ireland of the Irish Free State was not recognised by the other Home Nations. Therefore, this game would have been considered to be a match against Irelandmarker at the time, not Northern Irelandmarker.

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