Live Oaks and Mini Golf
City Park reopens some facilities, seeks to make up for loss of revenue
As coronavirus restrictions ease and those who haven’t been frontline workers cautiously leave their homes, being a tourist in your hometown is more tantalizing than ever. One of New Orleans’ most popular tourist destinations is City Park, and it has begun to open its outdoor attractions under phase one guidelines.
On Saturday, May 16, City Park reopened miniature golf course City Putt, the recently renovated Storyland, its tennis facilities and the New Orleans Botanical Garden. Additionally, Wheel Fun bike and boat rental on the Big Lake is open, as well as Bayou Oaks golf course. Restrooms outside attractions will remain closed.
City Park has opened these facilities following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and the mandates of the City of New Orleans. Visitors need to purchase tickets online in advance and capacity will be limited to 25%. The tickets will not be timed. Rather, people will line up outside of the facility and follow the stickers on the sidewalk to maintain six feet of distance while they wait their turn. The park is encouraging guests to wear masks but is not requiring them.
The reopening of these facilities is welcome financial news for park officials. Not since Hurricane Katrina has the park suffered such financial losses. In a statement in late April, City Park CEO Bob Becker said 90 percent of the park’s revenue is based on activities that occur in the park and the closure has significantly impacted the park’s resources.
“This loss of revenue, if continued, is unsustainable and will lead to reverting to pre-Katrina days,” said Becker. “While we have cut expenditures, renegotiated contracts and reduced our salaries, those actions are not enough to make up for the loss of revenue. We project that through June 30 we will have lost approximately $4.7 million — that makes up 24 percent of our overall operating budget.”
Becker, who has served as CEO since 2001 and saw City Park through the devastation of Katrina, was slated to retire earlier this year. He had agreed to stay on to help with the transition of his successor, and now the challenges of the novel coronavirus have kept him at the helm.
“We are so grateful to the people who love City Park, and to those who have donated during this time, thank you,” said Becker. “We strenuously remind people to continue to follow the rules in place so the park can continue to move forward in phase one.”
In addition to the facilities, some of the park’s dining options have food available for carry out. Service is available from Café du Monde, Filmore in the Oaks, Acorn in the Louisiana Children’s Museum (although the museum remains closed) and City Park Snoballs.
Storyland is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. New Orleans Botanical Garden is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday entry is free to the Botanical Garden for Louisiana residents courtesy of The Helis Foundation. City Putt Mini Golf is open Wednesday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Bayou Oaks is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to dark and Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to dark. The clubhouse will close each day at 7 p.m.
Separately, the New Orleans Museum of Art Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, located within City Park, will reopen Monday, June 1 under phase one restrictions at 25% capacity, using social distancing guidelines. Visitors are asked to wear face masks, which will be available for purchase. The Sculpture Garden will be open to seniors and immuno-compromised only from 9:30 to 11 a.m., to the general public 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and to museum members only from 4 to 6 p.m. Adult admission is $5, children are free, and healthcare workers and first responders are free through Dec. 31, 2020.
City Park’s open spaces remain accessible with social distancing and limits to groups of 10 or fewer.