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Rays to donate $1 million to Trop game-day staff, close spring site

All major-league teams will make a similar contribution to those impacted by cancellations due to coronavirus pandemic.
“Our game-day staff are the familiar faces that our fans know and love,” Rays president Brian Auld said in announcing the donation. “They are part of the fabric of the ballpark experience at Tropicana Field, and they are an essential part of our operations." [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
“Our game-day staff are the familiar faces that our fans know and love,” Rays president Brian Auld said in announcing the donation. “They are part of the fabric of the ballpark experience at Tropicana Field, and they are an essential part of our operations." [LUIS SANTANA | Times]

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are establishing a fund of at least $1 million to help Tropicana Field game-day staff impacted by the cancellation of games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The other 29 teams will do the same in an effort coordinated by Major League Baseball.

“Our game-day staff are the familiar faces that our fans know and love,” 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. We are proud that all 30 Major League Baseball clubs have made this commitment to their game-day employees.”

Also Tuesday, the Rays decided to join with many other teams and close their spring facility in Port Charlotte, where players had been working out informally under an agreement between the league and the union. About 12 players showed up Tuesday, most limiting their workout to playing catch. Plans to shift workouts to the Trop next week are also canceled.

"Based on CDC guidelines and baseball-specific social distancing recommendations we believe this is the best move for the health and safety of our players and staff,'' general manager Erik Neander said.

The number of canceled games is not known, but the league said Monday the season, which was to open March 26, will be delayed at least until late May, making it unlikely a full season will be played.

“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 in the start of the Major League Baseball season," commissioner Rob 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. The individual clubs will be announcing more details surrounding this support effort in their local communities. 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.

"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.”

The Rays say details on implementing the initiative are forthcoming and will be communicated directly to the staff.

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