When Dundee FC managing director John Nelms looks at the prospect of a new, state-of-the-art stadium at Camperdown, he sees so much more than just a football ground.
The complex would include a new conference centre – potentially bringing millions to the city – as well as hotels, restaurants, flats and a crematorium among other plans.
In short, it would be an entertainment hub for all the family, operating all-year-round.
“I think it’s important we talk about it as more than a football stadium and, in fact, we don’t talk about the football side very much,” said Nelms.
“The football club uses it 25-30 times a year while the rest of the time it’s something else other than a stadium for football – which is obviously most of the time.
“We want the football fans to have the best possible time they can, but the other 330 days, we want everyone else that comes on the site to say ‘this is a great place to be, I want to go back there’.
“That’s what we want to happen.”
The development and construction of the project itself has been frustrating for Nelms and Dundee owner Tim Keyes, the men behind Dark Blue Property Holdings, which is driving the new stadium plans.
In terms of the here and now, Nelms admits development of the project has slowed down.
Lending partners have been identified and Nelms is working closely with them to find a way forward.
He said: “As soon as we get confirmation of a plan of how financing will work and it works for us, we’ll press the button and all the consultants and everybody are back up to speed.
“Gregor Hamilton (head of planning and economic development at Dundee City Council) is patiently waiting for these documents to come through.
“Because it’s so large and has so many different parts, our consultants have been working with the council to give them the workings in stages.
“That will be based on how we’ve agreed to drop them in and ensure it’s the way they want it done.
“In our pre-meetings, which were over a year ago, we met with neighbours and local groups as well as those who had concerns.
“All of those things have happened – though it feels like a long, long time ago.”
Nelms sees the prospect of bringing the stadium to Dundee, on land next to Dundee Ice Arena, as the next stage of the city’s re-birth.
He has watched, since arriving in 2013, the Waterfront development and the city as a whole growing as time goes on.
He is sure a new stadium complex will bring in even more tourism.
Nelms believes it’s important to build on the positivity surrounding Dundee by helping produce a venue hosting events which would attract people from all around Scotland.
“You have to have momentum, you can’t rest on your laurels, you’ve got to build around that and add more to Dundee,” he said.
“You want people to spend the night here, spend more money so we have to give them multiple things.
“That’s one of our goals. Dundee is on the up and that’s one of the reasons we invested initially. When I first arrived the Waterfront was all rubble, it was hard to see it was a city on the up. But now the Waterfront is fantastic.
“The focus can’t just be there, it has to be in the city centre and surrounding areas.
“We need to build Dundee into a place where people want to spend more than a couple of hours.”
Park project could create 450 jobs
More than 450 jobs could be created by a new stadium at Camperdown Park.
Dundee managing director John Nelms has revealed government predictions suggest Dundonians could benefit from hundreds of jobs thanks to the project.
He said: “All of these things, the hotel, the restaurants, the crematorium all bring jobs. “according to government documents, it brings about 450 full time jobs.
“It also brings, over a two-three year period, construction jobs and part-time jobs.
“It creates more opportunity for the city and that’s our goal.”
Nelms also hopes a new stadium can help bring top music acts to Dundee and help Slessor Gardens to carry the load – as well as a conference centre which can attract 1,000 guests. He added:
“We can have concerts for up to 8,000 at slessor Gardens but we’d like to have concerts which host 20,000 people. That means we can bring acts to Dundee which would pass us over on a regular basis.
“We’ll have conference space which can offer 750-1,000 spaces and that’s what we want to go after.”
‘Club recovering after relegation’
John Nelms insists Dundee are in the process of recovering after relegation last season.
The managing director says changes behind the scenes have seen the club moving in a different direction, after the appointments of James McPake as manager and Gordon Strachan as technical director.
He said: “The Championship has been a big change, luckily we planned for some change and it has allowed us to move a few things around the club.
“Obviously the manager has changed, we’re changing things in the academy by bringing Gordon in and once we got through all the negativity of being relegated we could focus on bringing the club back up again.
“I think we’ve done that. We have a young manager and he has a lot of good people around him.”