It’s time for the longtime frenemies Bruins and Celtics to work together because their individual acts during this time of need and crisis have been lousy at best.
A few days after the Celtics announced they would only compensate their game-night workers — a hard-working group that does not include TD Garden workers — the Bruins announced a $1.5 million fund for Garden game-day associates “if the six remaining regular season games are not played.”
So basically, if the NHL decides to resume the season and push back the playoffs to include the final regular-season games, the workers get none of the money and are relegated to surviving until a decision is made by commissioner Gary Bettman.
The Celtics are essentially washing their hands of the TD Garden because they don’t own the arena. Delaware North, the Buffalo-based food service and hospitality company that is owned by Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs’s family, does. The Celtics, perhaps because legally they don’t have the jurisdiction to compensate workers for an arena they don’t own, have only addressed their arena staff.
The Bruins are contributing to a fund for the TD Garden workers, with one major condition.
This isn’t right.
It’s about time the Celtics and Bruins work together instead of just tolerating each other. Delaware North had $3.2 billion in revenue in 2018. According to Statista.com, the Celtics are worth $3.1 billion, a 46 percent boost over what the club was worth just five years ago. And can we please discuss the added income that’s going to come from the refurbishing of the TD Garden (The Hub on Causeway), which now has a grocery store, two restaurants, a 1,500-seat concert venue and movie theater?
Of course, the Celtics and Bruins are losing money during this unprecedented sports shutdown because of the coronavirus. There are no games, no events at the Garden, no parking profits. The place is empty.
Considering that, it’s understandable that the Bruins and Celtics would want to be cautious with spending, but they should take a page from their brethren in Los Angeles. The NHL’s Kings and NBA’s Lakers and Clippers are combining to compensate for the lost salaries for over 2,500 workers at Staples Center.
Like the Garden, Staples Center hosts a plethora of events, so the workers are earning a considerable salary. If professional sports teams indeed want to be considered pillars in the community and not just entities that charge exorbitant prices for tickets, food, and parking ($54 to park below the Garden for a Celtics or Bruins games) then this is the time to respond and support those who work every day to foster the game-night experience.
As for the relationship between the Celtics and Bruins, they are more roommates than friends. The Celtics have never owned the Garden. The Celtics have just been tenants, regardless of the fact they have won 17 titles as a franchise since becoming an NBA team to three for the Bruins over the same period.
As much as the Garden name and parquet floor is associated with the Celtics, as much as opposing teams used to complain about the sweltering locker rooms and the rumors of showers with no hot water, the Celtics never owned the arena.
That has created an icy relationship over the years that has thawed recently but could be best labeled as respectful. The Celtics haven’t hosted an All-Star Game since 1964, despite the NBA wanting Boston to host again and despite the new arena. And The Hub on Causeway is not hosting one any time soon.
Privately, the Celtics have no intention of working through the political and financial red tape with the Bruins and Delaware North about hosting the game, not to mention Delaware North would have to approve the Celtics hosting the game.
What a perfect opportunity for the Bruins and Celtics to use this as a summit of sorts to come together. And if players from both teams want to contribute as well, they could help those workers who have nothing to do with the current events, or of the strained relationship between the organizations or the cancellation of NHL and NBA games.
It’s not that both teams do not want to help, but it’s such an extraordinary and sudden situation that management of both franchises had to scramble for a game plan. But there are enough brilliant and compassionate people in both organizations to formulate a combined plan to help workers and add some much-needed support for not only those workers but the entire Boston community.
We get it, the Bruins and Celtics are never going to be tight-knit partners, especially financially. But what they can do is a form a healthy alliance with the express purpose of helping TD Garden employees, sending a message of togetherness to a community that desperately needs an emotional boost and proving that professional sports teams are not just here for profit and enhancing a city’s night life.
They are also here during the difficult times when the community and city is crying for help.