(ATR) The legacy jewel of the 1996 Olympics has been shut down due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These gates are now closed to the public indefinitely. (GWCCA)
Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta has been closed to the public indefinitely, according to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA). The GWCCA manages the venue.
The authority cited the “financial ramifications from the global pandemic” that have hit the hospitality industry hard, including the loss of events at the park and the nearby Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), which normally hosts a large number of conventions each year.
“The Park relies on operating support from GWCC and without event activities on our campus the costs associated with maintaining public access to the Park is not feasible,” said GWCCA executive director Frank Poe in a statement.
“We will focus our resources on preserving the green space and landscape in anticipation of daily use sometime in the future.”
The loss of revenue has been compounded by unexpected costs to clean up and repair the park.
Centennial Park worker cleans up after protests. (Twitter @centennialpark)
In late May, Centennial Olympic Park was one of several downtown Atlanta locations with connections to the 1996 Games damaged or vandalized during protests in response to the May 25 killing of George Floyd of Minneapolis, Minn., who died in police custody while bystanders filmed his arrest.
Graffiti was painted on marble walls at one park entrance and next to the popular “Rings” fountain. Instigators also set a welcome center on fire inside the park.
A statue of modern Olympic Founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin, installed when the park opened in 1996, also received white paint damage on the coattails of the over-sized figure.
The cost for cleanup and repair has not been revealed.
The annual U.S. Independence Day celebration on July 4th was one of the biggest events cancelled at the park due to the pandemic. Instead of the traditional fireworks display, protesters held a rally at the park calling for criminal justice reforms in the wake of the killings of Black Americans including Floyd.
Written by Gerard Farek
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