Centennial Olympic Park closed to the public indefinitely

Roughly 500 people gathered inside Centennial Olympic Park for a daylong worship event and march amid Black Lives Matter protests calling for police reform and a measured end to police brutality against black people. The event, March on Atlanta, coincided with Juneteenth, a holiday garnering wider national attention and a day marking the last slaves in Texas were freed. But for many attendees, the holiday also represents a day of protest.

Credit: Raisa Habersham

Credit: Raisa Habersham

A central gathering place for protesters in downtown Atlanta has closed due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Centennial Olympic Park is closed indefinitely, according to a statement issued Monday by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA), which manages the park. Executive director Frank Poe said that the authority has lost income from canceled summer activities and can’t afford to keep the park open to the public.

“The financial ramifications stemming from this global pandemic have hit the hospitality industry, including Georgia World Congress Center Authority, especially hard,” Poe said. “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.

Poe added the authority will work to preserve the green space and landscape at the park “in anticipation of daily uses sometime in the future.”

Thousands of people have utilized the park during protests since the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day in Minnesota while in police custody. A rally was held there on Saturday.

The annual July Fourth fireworks celebration at Centennial Olympic Park was canceled this year, also due to the pandemic.

In addition to the park, the GWCCA includes Georgia World Congress Center and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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