Semi-pro teams may play at Sugar Hill's Gary Pirkle park

SUGAR HILL — Barely three weeks after opening its first park in some 40 years, Sugar Hill's Gary Pirkle Park is fast becoming a sought-after destination for athletic organizations.

At its monthly work session Monday night, the Sugar Hill City Council discussed the overwhelming popularity of its 50-acre park at Suwanee Dam and Austin Garner Roads, even mentioning that two semiprofessional football teams recently expressed interest in playing games there.

The Gwinnett Jets and Gwinnett Patriots, which currently play games at high schools and other parks, are attracted by Pirkle's 360-seat bleachers and 255,000 square feet of synthetic turf fields, billed as the Southeast's largest contiguous synthetic surface.

The football programs potentially would join Pirkle Park's other tenants — Atlanta Fire United soccer, i9 Recreation Sports and Lanier Athletic Association (this fall), as well as several informal soccer organizations that have inquired about renting the park's turf and natural grass fields.

If the football teams contract with Sugar Hill to play games at Pirkle, they'd likely pay an hourly rate, as well as share 20 percent of gate receipts and concessions sales with the city.

"The attraction of synthetic turf at a public park has brought Gary Pirkle Park to the forefront of organizations looking for a place to play," said Sugar Hill Recreation Director Andy McQuagge. "I expected there'd be a lot of interest, but it has doubled my expectations."

Separately, the council:

• Heard proposals from Alpharetta-based Pieper O'Brien Herr and Lawrenceville-based Precision Planning, the city's two finalists to design its $8.5 million city hall at West Broad Street and Temple Drive downtown.

• Agreed to vote at its monthly meeting next week whether to increase its fee on municipal court fines from $50 to $60 to help pay for new software it began using at the first of this year.

• Discussed granting a beer and wine license to the Silverbacks Sports Center at 4285 Brogdon Exchange. Boris Jerkunica, owner of the 3-acre indoor center, made a proposal and answered the council's questions. Though the center potentially could meet seating and food revenue requirements for the license, its biggest challenge might be overcoming industrial zoning, where alcohol sales currently aren't allowed.