Teen Community Organizers Hold Stadium Owners Accountable

But neighborhood needs remain unmet.

(Photo by Ahecht)

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Thanks to a bunch of teenagers, TD Garden, home of the NBA’s Boston Celtics and the NHL’s Boston Bruins, recently paid $1.65 million to help build a recreational facility in Boston’s Jackson Square neighborhood, the Boston Globe reported.

Jonah Muniz, Mabel Gondres and Lorrie Pearson, of the Hyde Square Task Force, have been organizing for months around the Jackson Square Recreational Center, according to an earlier report from the Globe. In researching ways to fundraise for the facility, the teens discovered a 1993 law requiring the owner of what is now known as TD Garden to host three fundraisers a year to benefit the agency that oversees the city’s recreational facilities. The concession helped owners win state approval for the stadium.

Not one of the required fundraisers has been held since, the Globe has reported. “This matter was just brought to our attention. We are in early stages of discussions and are working on a resolution with [the state parks agency],” said Tricia McCorkle, a spokeswoman for TD Garden, at the time of that report.

The stadium has been holding other fundraisers for other groups. According to the Globe, TD Garden hosts three fundraisers each year for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, raising an average of $25,000 at each event. Adding up that amount for 22 years (since the stadium opened) would equal $550,000 — which stadium officials told the Globe they decided to triple, coming up with $1.65 million, to arrive at the contribution amount for the Jackson Square project.

The rec center remains in a holding pattern; the estimated total development cost is $30 million. Urban Edge, the nonprofit organization developing the center, told the Globe it’s raised $14 million, which the TD Garden amount plus an additional contribution from the state would bring to $16.5 million.

The teens went beyond advocating for themselves. Using an average fundraising event take of $150,000, multiplied by three per year over 24 years, adding interest and late fees and penalties, the teens calculated that the owners of TD Garden owed $13.8 million to agencies overseeing city recreational facilities.

“We’re going to live up to our obligations. There’s no question we’re going to continue to do the right thing, we just have to figure out what that looks like,” said Amy Latimer, current president of TD Garden, in an interview with the Globe.

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Oscar is Next City's senior economic justice correspondent. He previously served as Next City’s editor from 2018-2019, and was a Next City Equitable Cities Fellow from 2015-2016. Since 2011, Oscar has covered community development finance, community banking, impact investing, economic development, housing and more for media outlets such as Shelterforce, B Magazine, Impact Alpha and Fast Company.

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Tags: bostonprotestscommunity benefits agreementstadium welfare

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