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MLB, players create $1 million relief funds for stadium, spring training workers

Stadium employees and nonprofits across Tampa Bay may be eligible for thousands in aid.
Fans watch a spring training game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates on March 3 in Port Charlotte.
Fans watch a spring training game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates on March 3 in Port Charlotte. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Mar. 8

With canceled spring training and early-season games continuing to pile up, Major League Baseball and its players have launched relief funds for the thousands of workers impacted by the league’s lockout.

The league on Tuesday announced it’s creating a $1 million fund to support Florida and Arizona spring training workers in financial need. Clubs will administer aid to part-time and seasonal employees like grounds crew members, concessionaires, security workers and more. More relief is expected down the line for employees impacted by the loss of regular season games.

“We know that our sport is facing a challenging time as we work toward a new collective bargaining agreement,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Regrettably, the people who make spring training a first-class experience for our fans have been affected through no fault of their own. ... We hope this fund will alleviate some of the financial concerns they have faced due to missed Grapefruit and Cactus League games this spring.”

Related: Romano: While baseball argues about billions, small towns lose their meager spring windfall

Baseball’s announcement comes days after the Major League Baseball Players Association announced a relief fund of its own.

Last Friday, the players’ union said it would launch a $1 million relief fund for stadium workers and other employees who depend on games for income.

“There are a lot of people who make our game great,” Andrew Miller and Max Scherzer, leaders of the union’s executive board, said in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, they will also be among those affected by the owner-imposed lockout and the cancellation of games. Through this fund, we want to let them know that they have our support.”

The player-led fund will be administered by the AFL-CIO, which in the coming weeks will determine which workers and communities are most vulnerable, and how to get them that money.

Related: With big leaguers locked out, Rays minor leaguers will play spring games

While details on how workers can apply for the MLB and players’ grants are still in the works, one relief fund from the MLB Players Trust is already taking applications.

The Players Trust, which supports charitable causes, has allocated $500,000 in aid for Florida and Arizona youth development nonprofits that typically see some financial benefit from spring training games. Organizations within a 50-mile radius of a spring training facility can apply for grants of up to $5,000 to offset expected losses from this year’s canceled games. Charities have until March 31 to apply at trust.mlbplayers.com/fastball-fund.

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