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MLB creates $30m fund to assist ballpark workers

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball is leading an effort in which each of the 30 individual clubs will donate $1m to help cover lost wages for ballpark employees not working due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

Though numerous individual teams, ownership groups, and players have also pledged to help employees who work in and around games that are now on hold, MLB’s effort, totaling $30m, represents on of the largest and most coordinated efforts to date within the US sports industry.

MLB’s move also comes a day after the league said it will not start its 2020 regular season until at least mid-May, as it following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks. 

Specific details around the team-level donations are still being finalized, dependent in part on local regulations and collective bargaining agreements in some cases.

“Over the past 48 hours, I have been approached by representatives of all 30 clubs to help assist thousands of ballpark employees affected by the delay in the start of the Major League Baseball season,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. “I am proud that our clubs came together so quickly and uniformly to support these individuals who provide so much to the game we love.”

Many of the impacted workers are part-time and seasonal workers, and are typically paid by the game.

“We know the decision to postpone the season was the correct one, but it would be wrong for that decision to disproportionately impact those individuals who rely on income from working games to help support their families,” said the Washington Nationals, last year’s World Series champions. “We wanted to begin to help lessen the worry associated with the season’s delay.”

MLB, meanwhile, remains in active dialogue with the MLB Players Association regarding a wide array of other issues related to the virus-imposed delays, including how major league players will get paid and accrue service time, and revenue-sharing provisions. MLB also needs to finalize how minor-league players, who are not represented by the MLBPA, will also be paid while games are not happening due to the public health crisis.