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TD Garden workers remain in the dark about compensation during coronavirus crisis

With lines for concessions quickly a thing of the past because of the pandemic, one of the questions has become if and how the TD Garden workforce will be compensated.
With lines for concessions quickly a thing of the past because of the pandemic, one of the questions has become if and how the TD Garden workforce will be compensated.Stan Grossfeld

Contrary to their counterparts in multiple US and Canadian cities, as well as their brethren at Fenway Park, hundreds of TD Garden ushers and concessionaires remain without any sign they’ll be compensated for games scrubbed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While the Red Sox on Tuesday committed $1 million as relief for approximately 1,300 seasonal and part-time workers and the Celtics on Monday announced plans to pay their own part-time game-night employees, both the Garden and its owner, Buffalo-based Delaware North, did not respond to Globe requests seeking comment in regard to Garden workers. A similar request made to the Bruins on Monday also went unanswered.

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Delaware North has a worldwide workforce in arenas, race tracks, casinos, national parks, and assorted venues.

Only a few miles up Storrow Drive, the Red Sox committed the $1 million to assist with the projected lost earnings of Fenway’s event staff. The amount, matching the dollars pledged by every other MLB city, could funnel an average $770 to each member of the part-time Fenway workforce of approximately 1,300.

The payout in each of the 30 MLB cities was made, noted commissioner Rob Manfred, out of “a desire to help some of the most valuable members of the baseball community.”

Delaware North’s position runs in contrast to word in recent days that scores of US and Canadian cities with similar part-time arena staff would pay, in the majority of cases, up through events March 31.

In a few cities, some club owners pledged to pay event staffers into April, up to the conclusion of the original completion dates for the NHL and NBA regular-season schedules.

Delaware North chairman Jeremy Jacobs, 80, bought both the Bruins and the old Garden in the mid-1970s for a reported $10 million and went on to turn both properties into extremely successful cash cows with a combined value of more than $1 billion. The ongoing development of Delaware North-owned and/or controlled properties around the Garden has added considerable value.

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The Garden has upward of 1,000 employees, the vast majority of them part-time workers, on site for its events, the bulk of which are Bruins and Celtics games and concerts.

Unlike the ushers and concessionaires, security workers and cleaners are not Garden employees. TD Garden contracts with Securitas USA to provide all its security staff, while Boston-based UG2 provides all cleaning personnel. Those two entities can combine for some 250 workers for a sold-out Garden event.

The Bruins, who were to have played host to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night, were to have six home games remaining when the NHL closed up shop last Thursday due to coronavirus concerns. The Celtics, who said Monday night that they would compensate a smattering of their game-day employees, had nine games scheduled for Causeway Street when the NBA became North America’s first major pro sports league to go dark Thursday.

The Celtics, who play in the Garden as tenants, will pay locker room attendants, the official scoring and statistic staffs, media room attendants, game-night performers, and ball boys.

The Red Sox, their first game at Fenway originally slated for April 2, joined all of Major League Baseball over the weekend when it pulled the plug on spring training. Based on current guidance by the Centers for Disease Control, baseball won’t return to Fenway before May 10 at the earliest.

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Major League Soccer put its season on a 30-day pause late last week, after the New England Revolution played just one home game. They had 16 home games remaining on their regular-season schedule at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. As of Tuesday afternoon, the stadium’s operators said they will need more time before making recommendations about how to address potential lost income among its few hundred game-day employees.

“Our executive staff has been meeting daily and are in constant communication to discuss the various impacts that COVID-19 is having on Gillette Stadium employees, our operations, and our communities,” said a Gillette Stadium spokesperson in a statement. "Obviously, the CDC’s recommendation on Sunday to limit gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks underscores how quickly things are changing relative to the measures we are all trying to take to prevent the spread of this virus.

“We will all need time to understand how that recommendation may have an impact across professional sports leagues and other live events. We are working closely with MLS and our other stadium event organizers to better understand the most likely scenarios moving forward, before making any recommendations regarding our day-of-game staffing.”

The New England Revolution are owned by the Kraft Group, which also owns Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots also play. The stadium has its own in-house food and beverage operation. The number of game-day employees swells to more than a thousand for Patriots games.

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The NFL is in its offseason. Its preseason does not begin until August, allowing the Kraft Group and the NFL time to decide how to handle its game-day staff should the sports shutdown continue.

Under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, each NFL team this year will host two preseason and eight regular-season games, and up to two postseason games.

Players in both the NBA and NHL on Friday were quick to pledge funds to back the workers in their arenas.

In Sunrise, Fla., Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky put up $100,000 for the workers at BB&T Center, with other team members pooling donations for another $100,000. Bobrovsky’s offer came within hours after the NHL imposed the suspension Thursday afternoon.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, oft-rumored to be traded, also pledged $100,000 to compensate workers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the NBA team’s home arena.

On Saturday, a gofundme page was established for Garden workers. By Tuesday afternoon, 450 donors had scraped up nearly $34,000 in donations. The page included $1,000 donations under the names Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak, and Tuukka Rask. Taking security and cleaning workers out of the mix, it works out to around $50 for each Garden worker.

The game rate for parking at TD Garden this season is $54.

(Michael Silverman and Adam Himmelsbach of the Globe staff contributed to this report.)


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.