MLB teams pledge $30 million to support ballpark employees
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball’s teams have pledged $30 million for ballpark workers who will lose income because of the delay to the season caused by the new coronavirus.
Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement Tuesday, a day after pushing back opening day to mid-May at the earliest.
“Over the past 48 hours, I have been approached by representatives of all 30 clubs to help assist the thousands of ballpark employees affected by the delay,” Manfred said in a statement. “Motivated by desire to help some of the most valuable members of the baseball community, each club has committed $1 million.”
Many ballpark employees are paid by the game and will not have that income during the delay. If the schedule is cut, their income likely would be reduced.
“Our game-day staff are the familiar faces that our fans know and love,” Tampa Bay Rays president Brian Auld said. “They are part of the fabric of the ballpark experience at Tropicana Field, and they are an essential part of our operations.”
Seattle announced the creation of a fund to support Mariners event staff. The fund will be held within the club’s charitable organization Mariners Care and will be given out as grants to the impacted staff, team president Kevin Mather said.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Mather said. “This community has always been so generous. Our ownership group has always been so generous that we think this will be the seed money, for lack of a better word.”
The first cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. were in the Seattle area, and Mather said the club started planning contingencies for the possible loss of games a couple of weeks ago. He anticipates Seattle’s fund for ballpark workers will exceed the $1 million the league said each team would commit.
“The individual clubs will be announcing more details surrounding this support effort in their local communities,” Manfred said. “The timing of these announcements will vary because of the need to coordinate with state and local laws as well as collective bargaining obligations in an effort to maximize the benefits realized by each group of employees.”