Perth and Dundee are to go head-to-head in the battle to become the home of Scotland’s National Performance Centre for Sport.
Each of the cities has now made an official bid to sportscotland to bring the ambitious project to Tayside.
The centre would seek to nurture sporting talent from across the disciplines with a National Football Academy at its heart drawing in top-class athletes and coaches from across the country.
It could bring millions of pounds worth of investment into the region, help attract visitors and events, putting either city on the map in the process and granting them the prestige of being Scotland’s home of sport.
Up to £25 million from the Scottish Government’s Young Scots Fund will be ploughed into the initiative and many local authorities across Scotland are expected to fight for it.
In Tayside, Dundee’s bid came first, with Camperdown Country Park identified as the site for a sporting centre of excellence.
There have been months of preparation by the city council and its partners, which include the city’s universities, football clubs and college.
Administration leader Ken Guild believes Dundee is the perfect location for the centre and, in the scope offered by Camperdown, also has the perfect site.
The bid has widespread backing, with its advocates including Dundee-based MSP Jenny Marra, who began campaigning for the centre to come to Dundee back in 2011 and believes the city deserves better sports facilities.
However, Scotland’s newest city believes it has what it takes to become the new home of Scottish sport.
It hopes to challenge Dundee and other bidders for what could be one of the biggest prizes around, hot on the heels of its successful bid to regain city status.
The Perth bid sets out plans for the transformation of a 30-hectare site at Ruthvenfield, west of the city, linking with its ambitions for growth of the city through planned investment in roads, housing, business land and secondary school provision to the north-west.
The NPCS would include leading facilities for football, athletes, basketball and other sports, including outdoor and indoor pitches, sports halls and fitness/well-being suites. A hotel is also proposed.
The accessibility of the site, within 90 minutes of 90% of Scotland’s population, combined with the “getaway” ambience of the countryside is being seen a key strength in the bid.
Advocates of the Perth bid believe that, as athletes and coaches from all over Scotland will be able to reach the NPCS quickly and easily, they will have more time to focus on their performance goals.
The proposals include a floodlit, international natural grass pitch, three more floodlit pitches, an indoor pitch and training areas, teaching facilities and a fitness suite.
There would also be nine and 12-court sports halls, a beach volleyball hall, a 400m running track, a fitness centre and more health and wellbeing facilities.
Council leader Ian Miller said he was hugely excited by the prospect of bringing the NPCS to Perth.
He said: “The National Performance Centre for Sports represents a unique and inspirational asset for Scotland and its athletes. With Perth at the heart of Scotland, it makes the perfect place for the NPCS.”
The bid has been backed by businessman and former St Johnstone chairman Geoff Brown, who said: “We have a great deal of sporting talent within Perth and Kinross.
“Bringing the NCPS to Perth would provide high class facilities that would help develop and inspire our athletes of the future.”