Boston teens discover that Bruins owner stiffed city on recreational facilities for 24 years

A group of Boston teenagers trying to find funding for a new community hockey rink and stumbling upon a 24-year-old plot by the owners of the local sports arena to scam city recreational facilities out of money sounds like the best YA novel ever — and it is. Or would be, if not for the fact that it all totally happened:

The discovery was the result of a painstaking search that involved a civics lesson in legislative sausage-making, the close eye of a neighborhood activist, and a bit of detective work by several determined teenagers…

[In 1993,] Jeremy M. Jacobs, the developer of the new Boston Garden, ultimately agreed to hold three charity events a year, with net proceeds going to the Metropolitan District Commission, which maintained the city’s recreational facilities, such as pools and skating rinks…

[Michael Reiskind, a longtime member of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council,] shared his recollections with Ken Tangvik, director of organizing and engagement for the Hyde Square Task Force, during an April meeting on the development site…

Tangvik, who said the tip “was a gift,” then deployed his youth organizers to look up the Massachusetts laws enacted in 1993, and they found, “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.”

The students were astounded.

“Let’s just read this one more time,” [Lorrie] Pearson recalled thinking.

In short: For the last 24 years, Boston Garden (now named after some bank or something) has been supposed to be holding three charitable events a year, and giving the proceeds to city recreational facilities. Instead, it’s been holding, um, none. So that’d be a 72-charitable-event backlog, which the youth organizers are hoping they can use to convince the arena’s owners Delaware North (run by Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the Bruins) to kick in some money toward a new community hockey rink in Hyde Square, something the neighborhood and surrounding poor communities have been without since two local ice rinks were closed because of disrepair in the ’90s.

Hopefully that will happen, but in the meantime: How the hell did a multi-million-dollar contractual obligation of the Bruins’ owner go unnoticed by everyone in city government for 24 years? If 17-year-old kids can read the legal language and figure it out, you’d think so could anyone at City Hall, no? If I’m at the Boston Globe, at least, I’d be calling every budget director for the last two decades and pointing out that they just got shown up by a bunch of meddling kids.

Bruins to renovate Garden using actual own money their actual own selves

Not every team owner is insisting that they need public money to do renovations for their 1990s-era arenas. The owners of Boston’s TD Garden, who also own the Bruins, just announced $70 million in upgrades that they’ll be paying for out of their own pocket:

Among the ambitious upgrades: a relocation and expansion of the Bruins’ Proshop; an overhaul of the concourses on levels four and seven; and renovations of the Garden’s concessions and the Legends Club, the arena’s largest private hospitality space, which houses the Celtics’ Courtside club and is open to eligible Bruins and Celtics season-ticket holders.

“It’s our goal to really set the industry standard, the high-water mark, for fan experience,” Charlie Jacobs, principal for Delaware North Companies and the Bruins, told the Globe.

You can credit the difference between this and the situation with the Miami Heat et al. to the fact that Massachusetts isn’t as generous with sports subsidies as Florida, to the fact that it’d be laughable for the Bruins to threaten to leave Boston for another market, or just to Charlie Jacobs being a nice guy, if you want. But anyway, sports venue renovations can be done on the team’s dime. If you really needed any more evidence than this.