In 1993, three banks agreed to fund the construction of the Boston Garden. After bitter political quarreling between developers and the city, a deal was eventually struck to build the $160 million facility. At the time, the New York Times wrote:
The legislation does not include $3.5 million in so-called linkage payments to support public swimming pools and skating rinks, a requirement Mr. Jacobs [one of the developers] had objected to. But it does require that the Garden be available at least three times a year for charity events to benefit the commission that oversees state recreation facilities, and it requires Mr. Jacobs’s company, Delaware North, to contribute $10 million to help build the adjacent train station.
According to a new report from the Boston Globe, three teenage community activists from Hyde Square, who were trying to find a way to fund a new hockey rink in their neighborhood, discovered that the Boston Garden has—for 24 years—ignored the provision mandating the charity events. According to the report, the students found that the Garden has never held a single charity event to raise money to maintain the city’s recreation facilities.
In their research, Jonah Muniz, Mabel Gondres, and Lorrie Pearson inquired about the forgotten law and eventually received responses. Per the Globe:
State officials would confirm to the Globe only that they are involved in discussions now with TD Garden “regarding a resolution to the legislative requirement,” though they said it would be too early to comment on any potential disbursement of money.
Tricia McCorkle, a spokeswoman for TD Garden, pointed out that the Garden and its related organizations already raise more than $2 million a year for community programs through other charitable efforts, though she said the organization was committed to working with the DCR. “This matter was just brought to our attention, we are in early stages of discussions and are working on a resolution with DCR,” she said.
For their part, the students say TD Garden should be bound to the law and settle on a one-time payout to account for the past 24 years — one that could perhaps make their ice rink project a reality — and to begin holding fund-raisers going forward.
The students began looking into the law in an effort to “raise funds to build the Jackson Square Recreation Center, a $21.5 million, 50,000-square-foot facility with a regulation-size ice rink that would be across from an MBTA stop,” in a poor area that has not had its own indoor ice rink since the 1990s.
Publicly funded pro sports arenas and stadiums are slimy scams, but even construction projects backed by banks or private entities can leave cities and their citizens with a raw deal. Good on these students for finally holding the Garden accountable.
Correction (12:51 p.m. ET): This post originally stated the students are from Hyde Park. They are from Hyde Square.