Toronto's sports teams have banded together to create a special assistance fund to support arena and stadium staff affected by season suspensions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement on Friday, executives from the Blue Jays, Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC, and Argonauts said management, coaches, and players would contribute to the Team Toronto Fund, which will provide additional aid to many of their workers.
Major North American sports leagues suspended their seasons last week over the novel coronavirus outbreak, putting many of the teams' staff, part-time and hourly workers in limbo.
Leafs President and Alternate Governor Brendan Shanahan said the fund is an opportunity to reciprocate the love and support staff provides every day they come to work.
"Our employees are part of the fabric of our team, and following the leadership of MLSE's ownership group along with CEO Michael Friisdahl, who led the launch of the financial assistance program for employees, our players, coaches and management all wanted to pitch in to help ease some of the burden and worry that affects so many at this difficult time," Shanahan said.
Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said what fans remember the most about their trip to the ballpark is the staff's smiles, helping hands, and passion.
"It is an honour to join my counterparts and exceptional sports leaders in our city to help make a meaningful impact on the lives of all our game day staff," Shapiro said.
Major League Baseball suspended spring training games and postponed the start of the 2020 season to April.
Raptors president Masai Ujiri said pledging through this fund means pledging to be good teammates to arena and support staff.
"We want to be here for them, the way they are always here for us," Ujiri said.
Raptors' players, coaches, and staff are in self-isolation after a Utah Jazz player, who they faced, tested positive for the virus. All of their COVID-19 tests were negative.
The Toronto FC and the Toronto Argonauts said as teams with slogans "All for One" and "Pull Together," respectively, they are proud to do our part along with the other teams to help as we get through this challenging time."
Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment also unveiled details of a program to assist close to 4,000 part-time and event staff at Scotiabank Arena, BMO Field and Coca-Cola Coliseum, home to the American Hockey League's Marlies, on Friday.
- with files from The Canadian Press