Sam Burnham, Curator
An article in the AJC reports that Gwinnett Place Mall may be replaced with a mixed use development that would include a cricket stadium. The complex was once the leading regional retail center in Georgia. The mall opened in 1984, immediately reaping the rewards of being in the nation’s fastest growing county at the height of the popularity of shopping malls.
The conditions that led to Gwinnett Place becoming a retail giant also helped lead to its demise. Gwinnett County’s growth built demand for retail shopping and that led to nearby Sugarloaf Mills and the massive Mall of Georgia. Those two centers increased the competition for shoppers and tenants alike. That competition, combined with a decline in popularity of shopping malls meant someone had to lose. The market has chosen Gwinnett Place for that role.
In 2019 we see the other end of Gwinnett County’s explosive growth. People from all over the world have come to Gwinnett, bringing new cultures and new interests. This includes people from British Commonwealth nations like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and the Caribbean. In these nations, cricket is the sport of choice.
With a demand for cricket on the rise, a competitive league has been proposed. Part of that proposal is a team in Gwinnett and that creates the need for a stadium. The explosive growth of the 80s and 90s dictates that stadium development requires redevelopment of real estate. So the struggling mall seems to be a likely target. The location and the obvious need for action. So a local man with an interest in starting the cricket league is making his move.
While the evolution of baseball has dominated of America’s cricket-like experience, there is evidence that cricket was once as popular as baseball. During the Civil War both games were played by soldiers of both armies. This information has been obscured as completely as the truth of baseball’s origins. *Spoiler: Abner Doubleday enjoyed baseball but he didn’t invent it.*
So while immigrants are driving the rising demand for cricket in Gwinnett, the game has roots in America. Those roots, combined with a plan for a more sustainable development where people could live, work, and play has our attention. That development would include a large patch of green that could rally a community. That’s even better.
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Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire