BOSTON (CBS) — Longtime Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is worth a reported $3.3 billion. The employees who make his operation at the TD Garden go are worth considerably less.
As such, despite there being no games or events to work at the Garden, the people of Boston and beyond expected Jacobs to offer a certain level of financial assistance to the suddenly out of work employees who make the Garden hum on a nightly basis.
Yet as other team owners offered such plans, the Bruins remained silent. The Bruins were the last NHL team to offer any sort of compensation to employees, but even then, it was only on a conditional basis. That is, the employees would not get their lost wages until the NHL officially canceled the final six games of the season — a decision that may be months away.
Later, after employees told the media that they had been suddenly laid off, Delaware North — Jacobs’ larger company which owns the TD Garden — released a statement explaining how 68 full-time employees were being placed on temporary leave, while 82 full-time employees were given an indefinite salary reduction.
The messages were not well-received, to say the least. And that included many more folks than just people on Twitter.
Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey has been extremely critical of Jacobs, and she instructed TD Garden workers to contact the AG’s office to ensure that their rights were being protected.
Jeremy Jacobs is one of the richest people in the world. This is shameful.
Workers should contact our office to ensure their rights are being protected throughout this. As a fan, I am deeply disappointed. https://t.co/TcN23B4qZh
— Maura Healey (@MassAGO) March 25, 2020
The criticism from the media has not been difficult to find, either.
In a column titled “Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is coming up short during the global pandemic, and it’s pathetic,” Christopher Gasper of The Boston Globe wrote:
The Charles Montgomery Burns of Boston sports resorted to his miserly ways this week. After being the last NHL franchise to release a plan to compensate part-time team and TD Garden game day employees during the COVID-19-necessitated shutdown, Jacobs and his Delaware North company are laying off employees and icing their income. … The Bruins brain trust called the freezing of funds “temporary business stabilization measures” for Delaware North, the parent company of the Bruins and the Garden. It’s a euphemism for pad-locking Jacobs’s wallet as long as pucks are on pause.”
The 80-year-old Jacobs is clearly one elderly person not willing to sacrifice for the good of the economy. The Pucks Patriarch appears loath to engage in any social distancing with his considerable cash (Forbes lists his net worth at $3.3 billion), even if it’s to help out the little people in a time of economic peril and national crisis. As his hockey clubs used to so often during an earlier, hyper cost-conscious period of his ownership, he’s coming up short and cheaping out when it matters most. Disappointing.
Forget social distancing. How about social responsibility during these trying times? Have you no shame, Mr. Jacobs, turning your back on some of the people of a city you’ve profited off for 4½ decades. Jacobs purchased the Bruins and the old Boston Garden in 1975 for a tidy sum of $10 million. The Spoked-Bs are now valued at $1 billion, according to Forbes, and are the fifth-richest club in the NHL.
The Jacobses literally try to squeeze every last dime out of TD Garden, as evidenced by the uncomfortable, budget airline-worthy seats that Delaware North tried to squeeze into the Garden this year, soliciting complaints from long-time customers who enjoyed more legroom at ancient Fenway Park. Then there is the lucrative Hub on Causeway development on the site of the old Garden.
But there’s no money to spare for Bruins or TD Garden workers in this time of despair? Pathetic and insulting.
In a column titled “The Boston Bruins and their fans should be embarrassed by their shameful billionaire owner” for USA Today’s FTW, Andy Nesbitt wrote:
The Bruins and their fans should be ashamed of their owner. As a Boston guy who is a fan of the B’s, I’m certainly disgusted by his actions.
[W]e need to keep shaming these billionaire owners who are cutting the pay from people who need their normal paychecks now more than ever. We all have enough to be stressed about right now.
If you are a billionaire, you should be able to get through this without stealing money from your employees. There has to be better ways to be careful with your money than just taking some away from people who work for you and aren’t billionaires.
In a column titled “Boston’s TD Garden workers deserve better from billionaire owner Jeremy Jacobs” for Yahoo Sports, Shalise Manza Young wrote:
For six-plus months out of the year, Bruins and Celtics fans pour into the Garden. Many are season-ticket holders, some can only afford one or two games a year. Many more may make their first pilgrimage to the arena, their Christmas stocking containing a dream gift, their family maybe setting aside money for weeks or months to make it happen.
Those fans have supported the Bruins and Celtics for generations.
Those fans deserve better than ownership groups that would not step up in an unprecedented time to help those that do their best to make sure every Garden event runs smoothly.
In a column titled “Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs’ Offer To Help TD Garden Workers During Coronavirus Pandemic Falls Short” for Forbes, Alex Reimer wrote:
And yet, Jacobs is still delaying his payments. He must possess the same level of hubris as Hobby Lobby CEO David Green, net worth of $6 billion, who allegedly wrote a letter to employees instructing them to keep working throughout the pandemic, while warning they may soon have to “tighten their belts.”
The U.S. economy is bracing for perhaps its most calamitous shock in recorded history, with Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard telling Bloomberg News the unemployment rate could hit 30% in the coming months. That would be higher than the Great Depression and three times more than the 2007-09 recession, according to Reuters.
[O]ur business leaders must take a leading philanthropic role to stop the bleeding. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban answered the call, pledging to pay arena employees immediately after the NBA had suspended its season. Many players have followed suit.
Jacobs, whose family owns the No. 5 most valuable franchise in the NHL, still falls short. His game-day workers need checks in their hands now — not months down the line.
Over on Deadspin, which is apparently back up and running, Sam Fels wrote an expletive-filled story criticizing the Bruins owner. In terms of the quotable portion, Fels wrote:
Delaware North generates annually $3.2 billion in revenues. That’s annual. Jacobs’s personal net worth is $3.1 billion. Which means that 1 percent of his worth would double the fund he had set up for gameday employees, one in which he was the last NHL owner to set up for his arena workers and had to be guilted into it by the Massachusetts Attorney General. And that was only set up in case the Bruins and Celtics didn’t play the rest of their seasons, which is very much up in the air right now. And even if they do, how these workers get from here to July or August, when those games could be played, is still a fraught question.
On WEEI.com, Matt Kalman wrote:
It’s time to save another billion-dollar corporation some money during the worldwide Coronavirus crisis that’s crippling society as a whole and has shut down sports for the foreseeable future.
The latest move by the Bruins and Delaware North Company, with Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs as chairman, has been to enact what a press release very fancily called “temporary business stabilization measures.”
[W]ithout the transparency that a conference call or so some of interview could bring, we can’t learn which employees fall into which categories. We also don’t know if there’s any consideration for reducing pay to higher-ups in the Garden/Bruins corporate structure, say Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs or president Cam Neely.
In terms of tweets, the criticism has been unrelenting from all sides — and particularly from Bruins fans. Much of that criticism is not fit to print, but it’s not difficult to find critical commentary of Jacobs.
Jacobs has owned the Bruins since 1975. Bought it for $10 million. Now worth maybe $900 million. Even discounting his enormous personal wealth ($3.1 billion), how, after 45 years, is there no rainy day fund for employee salaries? (Of course no ticket money has been refunded)
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) March 25, 2020
Jeremy Jacobs is worth almost $4 billion. Bruins were last NHL team to offer up any help to their employees and among 1st to make cuts (68 full-timers on temporary leave and 82 full-timers with indefinite salary reductions) w/both the Bruins and TD Garden. No defending any of it
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) March 25, 2020
Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who also owns Delaware North, is worth about $4 billion, and once spent $625,000 on a village political race in Florida because he didn't like someone else squeezing in on his private equestrian club. https://t.co/EHxnoDowQD
— Mike Pries (@MikePTraffic) March 25, 2020
The Bruins were the last NHL team to announce any sort of employee compensation. Then that compensation was "only if the games are cancelled, not postponed". Now they're leading the charge in layoffs.
Jeremy Jacobs is worth $4 billion and the Bruins are a Top-5 team in value. https://t.co/xdxNFQY9mj
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) March 25, 2020
Jeremy Jacobs, the owner of the Bruins, could give all 68 employees he laid off today $100,000 in cash and his net worth would only go down by 0.2%. It'd be the equivalent of a guy with $10,000 in savings giving $20 away. https://t.co/obboUPKlLo pic.twitter.com/Bo36TRbvNZ
— ℳatt (@matttomic) March 25, 2020
The Jacobs family doesn't care about Hockey, you the fans of the team they own, or their employees.
What they do care about? Themselves and their elitist pursuits. If this was their Horse farm in Wellington Florida they would spare no expense to make sure it was cared for.
— Mike From Woburn (@MikeFromWoburn) March 26, 2020
These are unprecedented times. No one knows if hockey will come back this year and, if it does, what it will look like. But #NHLBruins ownership could certainly afford a lot more benevolence than its showing right now
— steve conroy (@conroyherald) March 25, 2020
This organization could teach a seminar on how NOT to handle crisis response. Shameful behavior as these workers are responsible for key aspects of game day operations. Jeremy Jacobs, worth over $3 billion, could easily foot the bill. Just a complete PR nightmare. #NHLBruins https://t.co/sKbNTqQFzr
— Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) March 25, 2020
Jacobs did sign over control of the Bruins to his six children prior to this season, but he remains chairman of Delaware North, and he remains chairman of the NHL Board of Governors.
Similar campaigns on social media and traditional media led the 76ers’ ownership group to reverse course on its strategy, ultimately leading to the 76ers paying their employees their regular salaries.