Rays to give grants of $500 and $1,000 to game-day staffers

Processing from the $1 million fund will start next week and should be in workers’ hands within two weeks.
With the baseball season delayed, game-day workers in concessions and security, among other areas, have been missing out on a source of income.
With the baseball season delayed, game-day workers in concessions and security, among other areas, have been missing out on a source of income. [ Times (2019) ]
Published April 10, 2020|Updated April 11, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have started the process of providing financial help to about 1,200 game-day workers idled by the delayed season.

Employees of the team, such as fan hosts, will get a one-time payment of $1,000 while those who work for the concession, security and cleaning companies, and some assorted others, will get $500.

The grants are coming from a $1 million fund the Rays (and all other major-league teams) established last month.

“We know it’s a very challenging time for everyone right now, and in particular our seasonal employees who don’t have games to work,” Rays president Brian Auld said Friday. “We hope these grant awards will help them through this challenging times.”

Determining which employees to include in the program and how much to pay them was a complicated calculus, and somewhat driven by working back from the $1 million total.

A rough breakdown is that there are about 600 team staffers (Rays and also Rowdies) eligible to receive the $1,000, which includes those who serve as ushers, ticket takers and in guest services, part-time members of the grounds crew and Rays Vision production department, among others.

There are close to 700 eligible for the $500 award, including those who work for the Levy concessions company, the Whelan security firm, cleaning services and freelance workers such as those who sew names on jerseys, details cars, and provide other services.

“We wanted to help all those who work Rays games in one way or another, which is why we have provided a program both for those employed directly by the Rays as well as those who work for our vendor partners,” Auld said.

“Although these staffs obviously work many different positions within the organization, we thought it was best to treat them similarly as I think everybody is being affected by the virus and associated shutdown.”

Auld said the Rays will begin processing requests for the payments next week and expect to distribute the money by the following week (April 20-24).

Workers are required to apply for state unemployment compensation to be eligible to receive the money from the team, which presumably ensures the grants don’t go to any workers who have full-time jobs elsewhere.

The Rays expected to distribute the full $1 million, so whatever is not claimed initially could be used for additional assistance in hardship situations. In the email to staffers, they note that the fund was “designed to help those experiencing a significant financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. If you are not experiencing a financial hardship, we ask that you forgo applying, to allow for those with more pressing needs.”

The Rays also provided links to a series of agencies providing help with money, food and health/emotional support.

Mortons donate $50,000 to Feeding Tampa Bay

Taking the lead among Rays players making contributions, Rays starter Charlie Morton and wife Cindy donated $50,000 to Feeding Tampa Bay as part of the Rays/Rowdies-led drive.

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The teams originally donated $100,000, and committed another $150,000 to match other donations. As of Friday afternoon, there had been $123,000 in community and player contributions, pushing the total to $346,000 of the targeted $400,000 total. By Feeding Tampa Bay’s calculus, each $1 donated helps provide 10 meals.

Also, from 9-11 a.m. this Saturday and for at least two subsequent Saturdays, Feeding Tampa Bay will use Lot 4 at Tropicana Field (First Avenue South and 17th Street) as a drive-through mobile pantry. Pre-packaged boxes of food are available for free, with no paperwork required.

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