Plea made to save stadium
Olympic tennis venue set to be demolished

LAWRENCEVILLE - A local sports enthusiast is encouraging Gwinnett commissioners to save the Olympic stadium at the Stone Mountain Tennis Center.

Lee Baker, who heads the Gwinnett Sports Council, made a plea to the county board this week, as the government will take over the tennis facility from the Stone Mountain Memorial Association next year.

The 50-year-lease agreement to provide recreational opportunities to southern Gwinnett doesn't include the stadium, which was used during the 1996 Olympics Games. That facility is slated for demolition later this year.

"There's no need to rush into demolishing this stadium," Baker said, citing a report that the deterioration of the stadium doesn't pose an imminent threat.

But the stadium has been empty for years, hosting only a handful of events during the past dozen years. Officials said they tried to market the facility as a sports and concert venue but haven't been able to find a niche.

Curtis Branscome of the association said the facility has cost the group hundreds of thousands of dollars, and he hopes the county can provide the service more efficiently.

Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, who represents the area, said the demolition has already been settled.

"It's just sitting there. It's rotting away, and there is not a lot of use for it," he said, noting that the facility was built for a temporary use. "We have tried to save it. The Stone Mountain Memorial Association has worked for years to find an alternative use."

But he said he hopes the 15 tennis courts the county will take over will provide an outlet for the community.

"To me, (the stadium) is a dead issue. That has no connection with Gwinnett County," Beaudreau said. "We're just looking forward to it as a recreational opportunity. It's a key centerpiece for the (U.S. Highway 78) corridor."