Bob DeChiara/USA Today

Teens discover that Bruins have been stiffing Boston for 24 years

Ty Anderson
July 14, 2017 - 2:57 pm

For years it was said that Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs was scamming Boston.

That was often made as a joke in relation to the product put on the ice through the late-90s and into the early 2000s. But every great joke has a little bit of truth to it, and this truth was discovered by a trio of Boston teenagers, according to the Boston Globe.

When it came to constructing the then-new 17,565-seat TD Garden -- which continues to undergo massive renovations in its 22nd year of existence -- Jacobs, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this November, received funding from three different banks for $160 million, and after some bickering with the city, reached a deal to build a new Garden so long as Jacobs made an effort to help the city’s development.

“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 had objected to,” the New York Times wrote of the deal in 1993. “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.”

But with multiple public city rinks closed due to a lack of funding and upkeep, especially those in at-risk communities, and without a single record indicating a community charity event at the Garden, this has been uncovered as a 24-year raw deal for Boston.

And just how did the students, who weren’t even born when this deal was first made, expose just how little the money-printing Garden had done for the community?

According to the Globe, this all started with the students’ efforts to raise money 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. The state has dedicated some grants to the project, yes, but left the rest to the developers. The nonprofit development agency, Urban Edge, is spearheading the project, which would serve Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, the Globe reported.

And it was in their tireless search for additional help, and with a tip sent to Ken Tangvik, a community organizer for the Hyde Square Task Force, that the teens realized the Garden had not held a single charity event for the betterment of their community.

It was with a look at the ‘93 books that the teens got their confirmation that it should have been happening: “An act furthering the establishment of a multi-purpose arena and transportation center.” One section of the law stated, “The new Boston Garden Corporation . . . shall administer . . . no less than three charitable events per year . . . and shall pay the net proceeds . . . to said Metropolitan District Commission.”

State officials confirmed to the Globe that they are involved in discussions now with TD Garden “regarding a resolution to the legislative requirement,” but they also said it would be too early to comment on any potential disbursement of money. TD Garden spokeswoman Tricia McCorkle, meanwhile, 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 (Department of Conservation and Recreation).

“This matter was just brought to our attention, we are in early stages of discussions and are working on a resolution with DCR,” McCorkle told the Globe.

Knowing that the funds were supposed to be directed to the maintenance and care of recreational facilities, the Globe notes that the teenagers believe that the community-based developer of a new rink could make some claim to the money, especially after the closure of the two indoor rinks that had been operating in the area, and that they could seek a one-time payout covering the 24 years of missed payments from charity events that never happened. However, as reported in the Globe’s story, it is unclear if the money can go to the facility the teens are hoping to build in their neighborhood, as it would not be a property of the state, which is where the money should have been going over the last 24 years.

According to the Globe, Garden president Amy Latimer and the Parks and Recreation Department have both said that they “will be formulating strategies going forward.”