The city is working out a contract to inflate giant bubbles over Central Park's tennis courts, then rent them out in the winter for equally inflated prices. The cost of operating and maintaining the 26 Upper West Side courts would fall to the contractor, as would profits, reports the Post, so no, this isn't the city's latest money-making scheme. So far it's unknown what the hourly rate will be (other tennis bubbles charge $28-$56/hour and the city says winter rates could be ten times greater than in the current permit system) but already community members are worried the the pay-for-play model will push the already elite sport out of reach of the everyman.
Park officials say they're wrong, since currently no one plays in the winter, and during summer months, when the bubbles will be dismantled, the courts will cost the same as always. "With a bubble over the clay courts, hundreds more can play and youth programs can be extended and enhanced," said a spokeswoman. The bubbles could stay open as late as 11, and white-outfitted players might not even have to risk the winter mud, since the city's also exploring the possibility of golf cart shuttles from locations farther south.