For Denyson Tavares, the Celtics offer a ray of light in a bleak Boston winter.
"That’s my team, man,” he said. “Of all the teams in the city, they reign supreme for me.”
The 32-year-old season-ticket holder was crushed when the NBA suspended its season indefinitely due to concerns about the coronavirus, and he was hopeful that perhaps play would resume this year. But he was not thinking much about next season, until he received an email from the Celtics on Wednesday reminding him that his first payment for the 2020-21 campaign would be processed on Friday.
“It just rubbed me the wrong way,” Tavares said. “It’s not like the financial burden about it. It’s just like, we don’t even know when we’re going to play this season, and they’re already extracting money for next season. The optics of this are really terrible.”
Tavares, an architect, reduced from a full-season to a half-season plan prior to this season. He renewed early this year in order to be entered in various team sweepstakes, and he signed up to pay in installments. But after the NBA shuttered and the city of Boston soon followed, with businesses closing and financial unease swelling, he believes the Celtics should show more awareness of the climate before collecting payments from customers trying to find their way through the uncertainty.
“Things seem OK financially for me today, but if you had told me two weeks ago that you couldn’t be in a crowd of more than 10 people I’d be like, ‘Yo, you’re crazy,’” he said. “Two weeks from now we could all not have jobs. And that $220 they charge me a month, that’s groceries. So you kind of have to put things in perspective. I just think, let’s hold off. The NBA is canceled until whenever. At least come to an agreement where once we know this season is going to start, then we’ll start charging you again. I don’t think people would have an issue with that.”
When Chris Patrick Adams received the email from the Celtics ticket office on Wednesday, he thought it was to inform him that payments for next year would be pushed back. Instead, it was just an alert that money was being extracted.
Adams, 26, is a promotional products salesperson, and he fears that his industry could be especially vulnerable during these uncertain times. He thinks the Celtics could have just waited a bit.
“It squeezes out people who aren’t recession-proof, whose job maybe isn’t locked in for the next six months,” said Adams, who has a pair of balcony seats in Section 315. “Who knows what’s going to happen? And we all just finished paying for this season and they haven’t finished delivering this season. They kind of owe us a service we’ve already paid for, and here they are asking us to double down in a time of crisis.”
Adams said he reached out to his Celtics ticket representative Wednesday afternoon to say that he wanted to opt out, at least temporarily, until there was more clarity about how this nationwide emergency will unfold. He said that he was later told he could have another week or two to consider his options before being charged for next year. He’s not sure if that will be enough time.
When contacted by the Globe on Thursday about the fans’ concerns, the Celtics provided a statement.
“Since we began our season ticket renewal process in February, we have been in regular contact, both through email and directly via our ticketing staff, with our season ticket members about their renewal options, which include a variety of payment plans.
"Yesterday’s email was the latest communication to remind fans who wish to renew their season tickets to assess their payment preferences and options. Our ticketing staff is continuing this outreach and are working with season ticket members who need extra flexibility as our fans take time to assess their individual circumstances. Our ticketing staff remains available as always to answer any questions from season ticket members. We remain committed to providing our fans the best possible service and communication for when our team returns to play.”
‘I’m sure it’s a cash intake issue for them, but at the same time they have been paid for games that haven’t been played yet, either. To start charging us for next season seemed a little tone-deaf.’
Celtics season-ticket holder Bob Futon
The statement also pointed out the team’s swift changes to its ticket policy for this interrupted season, reiterating that tickets purchased for games this season will be honored when the games are rescheduled. If the games are eventually canceled or played in empty arenas, fans will receive refunds or future credits.
The Bruins’ season-ticket holder renewal deadline was March 9, and on March 10 — the night before the sports world began to shut down in response to coronavirus fears — the first payment was processed for season ticket holders who chose to renew.
Bruins season-ticket holders’ next payment was scheduled for April 14, but according to a team spokesperson, the team has “decided not to move forward with that date,” and will reach out to season-ticket holders with a revised payment plan.
The Patriots have a March 31 deadline for season-ticket holders to renew for 2020, and team spokesman Stacey James said as of now the deadline is not changing. James said the team has taken a few dozen calls from concerned fans about the deadline, but otherwise the team’s renewal numbers are in line with previous years, around 99 percent.
He said the Patriots have received more calls from fans asking for better seats, or to add seats to their season-ticket packages, believing Tom Brady’s departure will lead others to cancel.
Celtics season-ticket holder Bob Futon said that given the obvious and escalating tenuousness, this week did not seem like the proper time for the team to begin collecting payments for next season.
“I’m sure it’s a cash intake issue for them,” Futon said, “but at the same time they have been paid for games that haven’t been played yet, either. To start charging us for next season seemed a little tone-deaf.”
Given the current trajectories, there is a good chance that next season’s NBA calendar will be shifted, with Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledging on Wednesday that the year could start several months late. An altered schedule could affect the plans of some fans, too.
“Who knows?” said season-ticket holder Fred Del Genio, who said he was frustrated that the Celtics had not pushed back charges for next season. “If they actually play the playoffs this year, they could start next year in December.”
David Chalifour, a painting contractor, has been a Celtics season-ticket holder for 12 years. He said he understood why some fans would be upset that the team is starting to charge this far in advance during such an unsettled time, but it did not bother him. He added that the team’s ticket reps have always been accommodating.
“Any time I’ve had an issue and needed payment pushed back by a week or something, they’ve worked it out,” he said. “I’m sure if people had a problem and didn’t want to lose their seats, I’m sure they’d work with them.”
Kevin Paul Dupont and Ben Volin of the Globe staff contributed. Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach