The state’s long-running drought has prompted further restrictions on athletic events inside Piedmont Park and forced at least one gay sports league to find a new home for its upcoming season.
In January, the city of Atlanta banned large-scale festivals from its parks, pushing Atlanta Pride to find another location. In announcing those restrictions, the city’s parks and recreation commissioner said league sports would remain in place at Piedmont and other city-owned parks, though she hinted that further restrictions could come as park caretakers monitored the health of the facilities.
But while announcing the drought restrictions last month, city officials were drafting additional rules and regulations for athletic teams using the parks, according to Sharon Davis, a spokesperson for the city parks and recreation department. The new regulations, published in mid-February, ban league play in any park on Fridays and restrict rugby and soccer to just a handful of parks. The city had already banned cleats from its athletic fields.
The Piedmont Park Conservancy, a non-profit organization that manages the park, went a few steps further, closing the two large athletic fields in the Active Oval to baseball, golf, field hockey, flag football, lacrosse and rugby. The two softball fields and sand volleyball court will remain open.
The additional restrictions at Piedmont mean the National Flag Football League of Atlanta, which played there last year, had to scramble to find a new field for its upcoming season, which opens on March 22. Leaving Piedmont means giving up a high-profile location that helped raise awareness of the gay football league, said Thurman Williams, NFFLA’s president.
“When we were at Piedmont Park, it did a lot for us in terms of visibility,” Williams said. “We are just grateful to have a place, but I’d much rather be in Piedmont Park for sure.”
Read the city’s new rules concerning athletic fields.