Events are halted at the BB&T Center for the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus outbreak, so Sergei Bobrovsky and the Florida Panthers are making sure the part-time workers at the Sunrise arena will be paid even while the NHL is on hiatus.
Bobrovsky pledged a $100,000 donation Friday to pay arena workers while events are postponed, and his teammates are coming together to match his $100,000 donation. Panthers ownership will also chip in an undisclosed sum, a team spokesperson said.
Bobrovsky talked with ownership and his teammates Friday to discuss the plan after the team returned to South Florida. The team traveled back from Texas, where it was supposed to play the Dallas Stars, on Thursday after the league suspended play.
The donations will cover the hourly wages part-time employees were expected to work at all postponed Florida home games, plus concerts and other events at the Broward County arena. The Panthers were originally scheduled to host the New Jersey Devils on Saturday before the NHL suspended play Thursday. Florida three other home games scheduled for the rest of the month — Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres, March 21 against the St. Louis Blues and March 30 against the New York Rangers. The BB&T Center also postponed an Andre Rieu concert, which was scheduled for Friday.
Bobrovsky is in his first season with the Panthers after signing a seven-year, $70 million contract with Florida last year. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner has had an up-and-down season, allowing a career-worst 3.23 goals per game, but the goaltender has helped keep the Panthers in the playoff hunt. Florida entered the hiatus three points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third and final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
The Panthers still do not have a concrete refund policy in place for those who purchased tickets to since-postponed events as the NHL has not yet outright canceled any games. Florida posted a frequently-asked-questions page to its team website Friday and said it encourages “fans who purchased tickets directly through the Florida Panthers to hold on to their tickets for future use. Fans who purchased tickets elsewhere should reach out to the point of purchase.” The Panthers are also pushing back their season ticket-renewal-deadline from March 21 to an undecided date and pushing back the deadline to purchase Stanley Cup playoff tickets.