Will sports, events return to Piedmont Park?

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It’s been the unanswered question since the city of Atlanta put in place new restrictions on the use of Piedmont Park: will the sports leagues and festivals that call the park home ever be allowed to return?

It’s a question that Maria Saporta, a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, asked again today:

“The state’s Level 4 drought restriction still exists,” [city parks commissioner Dianne Harnell] Cohen says. “We would look very carefully at whether the state had lifted its drought restrictions. But the city can have its own restrictions.”

So can the festivals return to Piedmont Park in the future?

“I won’t say they never could come back to Piedmont Park,” Cohen says. “But I would advise them to have an alternative, a Plan B.”

In January, the city kicked out large festivals from its parks to protect them from the long-running drought. The restrictions also led to the ouster of organized sports groups from Piedmont. In the wake of the new measures, the Atlanta Pride Festival moved its date and location, the National Flag Football League of Atlanta was bounced to two different locations and the Hotlanta Soccer Classic may also be forced to move its Memorial Day tournament.

What’s disturbing about the restrictions is that the city and the Piedmont Park Conservancy, the park’s caretaker, won’t outline what it will take for Piedmont, the park system’s jewel and the city’s largest park, to become truly public again.

Read Saporta’s full column. Read my recent Southern Voice column about sports events that are retooling because of the new restrictions.

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