Sports may get boot from Piedmont Park

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Georgia’s severe drought has taken its toll on Piedmont Park and may soon count among its victims the team sports that call the city’s premier park home.

It came as little surprise this week that Atlanta Pride organizers opted to move the annual festival from the park in anticipation of a new ban the City of Atlanta is expected to announce during a press conference Friday morning. The city may kick out all large festivities from the park, including Pride, the Dogwood Festival, the Atlanta Jazz Festival and the Peachtree Road Race.

Pride organizers moved swiftly, opting to seek out the Atlanta Civic Center to house the festival, though moving the event from the park is also likely to mean a new date for the historic weekend, which is traditionally held in late June. Southern Voice broke the news on Tuesday.

But what’s unclear is the fate of the athletic teams that regularly use the park. A ban on team sports would mean a trio of gay sports organizations would need a new home. The National Flag Football League of Atlanta plays its weekly games there, teams from the Hotlanta Softball League use the park’s practice fields and the Hotlanta Soccer Association holds its Memorial Day Weekend tournament at the site.

A spokesperson for the city’s parks department refused to comment on the matter today, punting questions to a City Hall press conference on Friday. That’s when city officials are scheduled to release a new policy for outdoor events in parks during the current drought restrictions.

Last month, a city official and caretaker of the park hinted at what the new policy might do:

Dianne Harnell Cohen, commissioner of the parks department, told the newspaper the city may rotate athletic fields, while Piedmont Park Conservancy president and CEO Debbie McCown says measures may go further than that. “We may not have the kind of intense league play for awhile,” she says.

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