Gwinnett County doesn’t want you using their soccer fields

That title sounds absurd. Any normal tax payer might read that and think “Really? Because I’m paying for them.” In a roundabout way, yes you are. So you’d think that the public’s access would be much greater than it really is. Sadly, that’s not the case.

In my recent venture into adult soccer, I’ve been on the hunt for a place to practice. And when I say practice, I mean kick a ball into a net. Not a pickup game of me and 29 of my closest soccer buddies. Me and maybe one more person. If you need details, I might try a few finishing drills. Maybe a few penalty kicks. A corner kick or two. I might run the length of the field a few times. Nothing crazy.  All I want to do is use 1/4 of a public soccer field, and alas I’ve had no luck. No luck as in I have driven around to at least 5 parks in the North Fulton/West Gwinnett area and have not come across one single soccer field open to the public’s use.

A tad annoyed and rather befuddled, I decided to call a couple of places. I used this fabulous list of amenities supposedly open to the public to drive my calls.

Here’s how it broke down:

– Pickneyville Park and soccer complex: Gorgeous soccer fields, but surrounded by high black fences with locks on the gates. They’ve been locked for probably 3 months now. A woman answers. Me: When are your soccer fields open? Her: sun up to sun down. Me: Oh! Ok!…are you sure about that? Because they have big locks on them. Have for a while now. Her: Oh! Hold on….let me check. (goes away and comes back) Oh. Yeah. Sorry. Closed for restoration. Me: When will they be open. Her: Not sure. You can always call and try to schedule some time. Me: *hangs up.*

– East Roswell Park: Same spiel. Fields closed for “restoration.” Except this time, the girl gave me an estimation. “They’ll be open in a few weeks.” Oh! Great! I’ll mark it on my calendar…

– George Pierce Park: I ask the same question. When are your soccer fields open? Lady: Ummm….for what? Me: I’d like to use them to practice on. Lady: Like a game? Me: No. Just to kick the ball around. Lady: Well we have a big field you can get out on and run around all you want. Me: Do they have goals? Lady: No. Me: So I can’t use the soccer fields? Lady: It’s only my third day. Hold on one second. Lady: No. The soccer fields are closed to the public. You can call so and so to schedule some time though. Me: *hangs up*

Do you see a pattern here? I’m one girl wanting to use a soccer field for about 2 hours on a Saturday morning. I don’t plan on bringing my army out. Nor do I plan on sowing your fields with my cleats — both of them. What’s a girl gotta do to be able to practice some soccer around here?!?! And who said it was ok for the Parks and Rec department to take these fields hostage? I get what may be the driving force. I get that some people use and abuse them. I do. But why let 1 bad apple ruin it for the whole bunch? Make some rules. Limit the # of people on the fields at any time. Open them for only a limited time on the weekends. Oh us tax payers, yeah, we pay for park police, too, so have them patrol and enforce. What’s so hard about that?

Don’t just completely lock us out. It’s keeping a really great sport from being loved by a very deserving group of people.

11 thoughts on “Gwinnett County doesn’t want you using their soccer fields

  1. You are completely right, the same thing happens to me. We the public pay the tax but in benefit of certain people not all of us. For all other sports you can see fields are open all the time but for soccer you can see locked and read permit use only. This is all about business and making money. sometimes even if you ready to rent they are not available and reserved for some specific “league”

    • Hey Jacques,

      Thanks for the comments! It’s great to hear that other tax-paying residents feel the same way. In a county where the sport is so huge, and growing, it boggles the mind why Gwinnett wouldn’t want to help feed that. I agree that it’s all about making money. Just look at the “Hot” lanes on 85. Really sucks. I think it’s good for people like us to continue to raise awareness to other residents that this is going on. So thanks for your support!

  2. I notice the same problem. I moved to Gwinnett from Greenville, South Carolina a year ago. In Greenville, the fields are open for public use, so I never had this problem. Kids can practice baseball, adults are free to kick around soccer balls, which I do over there. But here, when I went to a park, Bethesda Park, to kick around, I noticed the field was locked. I thought that was awkward, so I tried the other fields in the park, every one of them was locked. I was pretty stunned, so I tried other parks. I drove all the way to Lawrenceville, Jordan Park I think, closed for renovation. They had one field open, but that field had no grass, just dirt and soccer goals. So I went to Bunten Park in Duluth, again closed for renovation. I decided to call them, the guy said they would open in a few weeks after renovation. It’s been about three months now, still renovating. Pretty much, I’ve come to the conclusion that Gwinnett are pretty selfish about their fields and really only want to make money of them. Pretty messed up, because we still have to pay taxes to support the fields, so why can’t we get to enjoy them?

    • Exactly! It’s seriously confusing.I get that there are some clubs that maybe pay to have fields look a certain way and be available at a certain time. But I wouldn’t mind driving, as long as they can give us more access.

  3. Man, I ran into this same problem.

    I live in Norcross, so Pickneyville Parks is right down the street from me. I went there to do some goalkeeper drills only to find that all the fields are locked. They are great fields with nice nets and no one was using them. Yet, I couldn’t get in. I tried to call people to see when they would be open, but no one could give me a straight answer.

    Yet, across the street, on the other half of Pickneyville Park, the baseball fields are wide open for anyone to use. So I finally gave up and started doing goal kicks in centerfield of one of the baseball fields. Baseball fields are softer than soccer fields, so my cleats left huge holes all over the outfield which I apologize for. Yet, what other choice did I have?

    I love soccer, but it sucks that there are no public places to go and practice. Unless you belong to a league or something, you’re just out of luck in Georgia 🙁

    • Kevin, thanks so much for leaving a comment! Pickneyville is an amazing park, right? It’s too bad they keep everything locked up. I’ve totally used baseball fields the same way. I’ve even used Lillian Webb park’s flat surfaces for a few drills a while back when it wasn’t too crowded. Same thing – what else can we do?I heard there are some fields across the street from downtown Norcross on the other side of Buford. You should look into that! And then also at some fields behind Pickneyville by the aquatic center. Those are nice fields, and the few times I’ve gone, they’ve been open. Good luck my friend!

  4. I ran into this same problem the other day. I usually go to Rabbit Hill Park, which they would leave one beautiful field open, but unfortunately it is currently under renovations. For solo practice I now go to lifetime and practice inside the squash courts. There are a couple of meetup.com clubs I use to attend to practice scrimmaging, which someone fields were better than others. I plan on starting a soccer team for the Rabbit Hill Park league, its coed 7v7 on Sunday Nights. Let me know if you’re interested.

    • Hi, Alan. Thanks for the comment! Interesting to see, even 4 years after I posted this blog post, people are having the same experience. Just goes to show it’s a mindset problem at the country level. And thanks for the heads up on the league. Dacula is a bit too far for me to travel during week-nights, but I’m always open to hearing about cool new leagues around the area. Feel free to send me more info, and I can feature it on this blog!

      • If you are still looking for a park with soccer goals, my group of friends have recently found one in Duluth called Scott Hudgens Park. They play some league games there but when my group went there on a Saturday afternoon, there were probably around 10 unused fields with unlocked, full sized goals.

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