Kirkwood residents call out fan controlled football in Pratt-Pullman for foul

The temporary Fan Controlled Football Arena in the Pratt-Pullman District. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

A group of Kirkwood residents say the pounding of music and DJs coming from a professional football league in the Pratt-Pullman District is affecting their quality of life. However, noise is just one of many concerns they have about redeveloping the former industrial complex.

In a letter to Mayor Andre Dickens and the city council last month, the Kirkwood Neighbors Organization requested that the city allow more citizen participation and oversight over what types of uses are permitted at the former Pullman Yard. The 27-acre historic district on Rogers Street, south of DeKalb Avenue, is owned by Atomic Entertainment, which promises to transform the site into an arts hub. For example, the Pratt-Pullman District is known for its immersive art exhibitions by Van Gogh and Picasso. The Atlanta Opera concludes its season at the Pratt-Pullman beginning June 2nd.

The Kirkwood Neighbors Organization’s appeal follows months of complaints from residents to city officials and the property owner about the blaring music and loud announcers at fan controlled football (FCF) games. The Games began in April and will be played weekly in a massive 85,000 square foot temporary hangar-like structure adjacent to Building 1, the “Cathedral” building known for the impressive Van Gogh and Picasso art displays.

The FCF regular season ended on Memorial Day weekend, but the semifinals are scheduled for June 4th, with the league game on June 11th. Several people who live near Pratt-Pullman County said they often have to shout to be heard in their homes, and their windows and floors vibrate from the noise emanating from the soccer arena.

“I don’t think anyone thought that we would be exposed to a boombox for so long every weekend,” said Suzanne Blam, who lives on Locust Street, less than a mile from Pratt-Pullman County.

Atlanta Intown received a February letter from Tom Cappello, President and Executive Producer of Atlanta-based Crazy Legs Production, to Doug Young, Associate Director of the city’s Office of Design, Historic Preservation Studio. Crazy Legs Productions was licensed by Atomic Entertainment to produce FCF in the Pratt-Pullman District.

The letter states that because Crazy Legs Productions is a film and television production company and has received approval from Atomic Entertainment to build a temporary “tent structure” on private land, it was not required to obtain a city planning permit.

“[T]The structure is a temporary production set used only for production and production support. This is our “Thunderdome” style set to house our live game show,” Cappello said.

The FCF is a professional indoor football league in which fans announce key games and participate in drafts. The league’s first season of 2021 took place at the Infinite Energy Arena in Gwinnett County. The league has relocated to the Pratt-Pullman District this year and the games will be produced and filmed by Atlanta-based Crazy Legs Production. The games will be broadcast on the streaming platforms Twitch, NBCLX, DAZN, FuboTV and Peacock. A third season is in the works and Kirkwood residents said they fear FCF will be played in their neighborhood again.

According to Blam and several other local residents, a football league has not been approved as part of a master plan for redevelopment of the site, which has been reviewed by neighborhood groups. However, since the league will be broadcast across multiple streaming platforms, the city has informed residents that it is a film production — a use permitted under the property’s redevelopment plan.

A representative from Councilor Liliana Bakhtiari’s office told members of the Kirkwood Neighbors Organization at their regular meeting in May that the massive FCF tent was legal as a film studio. However, the representative added that the city’s legal department has ruled that because FCF is also a live sports league, it is exempt from the noise ordinance, which requires loud noise to cease at 11 p.m

Several residents say Bakhtiari’s involvement has helped reduce FCF noise. However, they add that they fear the indoor soccer league will set a precedent for other uses that have not been approved for Pratt-Pullman District to build on the property.

Inquiries from Atomic Entertainment, Crazy Legs Productions and Fan Controlled Football have not been answered. Requests for comment from council member Liliana Bakhtiari have also gone unanswered.

“I think for all of us, one of the biggest frustrations is that there just aren’t a lot of answers and people aren’t very accommodating,” Blam said. “Our concern is what will happen if this isn’t temporary? Will this be our life?”

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