Keys needed to access some free sporting facilities in Tallinn

Sports field at Snelli Park.
Sports field at Snelli Park. Source: ERR

The Be Active year is in full swing and even though Tallinn has numerous outdoor sporting facilities that are free to the public, some places require people to go looking for keys in order to open locked gates first. The city has failed to reach an agreement for the public use of a popular stadium in Snelli Park this year.

Tallinn seems to offer a plethora of opportunities for outdoor exercise. There are around 400 sporting grounds and stadiums in the capital most of which are owned by the city. These facilities are usually fenced off and open to the public when there are no scheduled trainings taking place.

Aivo Normak, deputy head of Tallinn's Culture and Sports Department, said that the city has offered young people free access to stadiums or arenas that are surrounded by fences. "For example, the football pitches of the Pirita Velodrome and the Sõle Sports Center."

People are often unaware of the fact that sporting facilities with locked gates can still be used, with relevant information available on the websites of these places.

"Even if the doors are closed – and this information is available on the website – it is possible to contact the administrator and go and play sports without having to pay if the field is unoccupied," said Alar Nääme, head of the Sõle Sports Center.

For years, it was possible to exercise for free in Snelli Park – to play ball or run laps around the stadium there. However, the Snelli Park facility is closed to spontaneous exercise from this year.

"It is a matter of where talks have ended up between the sides [the city and the owner of the facility]. Schools can still have their PE classes there, while no further agreement was reached. It is likely a matter of the rental price," Aivo Normak said.

The Snelli facility manager OÜ Primos did not say how much it is asking the city this year, simply remarking in a written comment that inflation, staff and salary expenses, the price of electricity and renovation and repair costs have grown considerably, as well as that an agreement would need to see the city contribute.

To do just that, the Culture and Sports Department wants to make as many school stadiums as possible accessible to the public.

"Of course, it will not be easy to organize all at once and requires some financial means – cleaning, additional staff – as school stadiums are usually closed territories. There are details to sort out, but I believe it can be done and we will reach a situation where most school stadiums are open to the public one day," Normal said.

Last summer, 14 school stadiums were open for outdoor exercise in Tallinn.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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