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Barclays Center rep: "highest levels of state government" approved program to honor 62 essential workers at Nets game (despite state guidelines)

This is the third of a few posts on the 1/26/21 Quality of Life meeting, sponsored by Empire State Development and held virtually. The first concerned postponed weekend railyard work. The second concerned the timing of construction.

Barclays Center representative Mandy Gutmann at the meeting described various initiatives, including:
  • the new Social Justice Fund founded by Joe and Clara Tsai, whose company owns the Brooklyn Nets and operates the arena, which recently gave its first grants
  • a new supplier diversity program that aims to find local suppliers that are "at least 51 percent owned, operated and managed by individuals who are: minorities, women, disabled, LGBTQ, and/or military veterans."
  • the Brooklyn Nets' opening night on 12/22/20, when the team honored 62 essential workers--representing 26 organization and numerous professions--as part of a special event, Barclays Essential Together, which also raised $2.25 million for COVID-19 relief
  • The Brooklyn Nets Food Pantry presented by HSS, Hospital for Special Surgery, located at P.S. 308 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a neighborhood with significant food insecurity
Following up: relief fund

I asked about the sources of that COVID relief fund. Gutmann, during the meeting, responded, "We have various donors for that initiative and the Nets funded the program for opening night." 

So if the Nets funded the program, that means they brought the donors together?

The press release suggested there were multiple outside donors:
Together with Barclays and additional generous donors, the Nets raised more than $2 million for COVID-19 relief efforts, similar to what a full crowd at Barclays Center would have generated in ticket sales, with the fund to be distributed to Coalition for the Homeless, The Campaign Against Hunger, Good Shepherd Services, New York Cares, and United Way’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund.
Following up: Barclays Center attendees

One question, which I had submitted but was not read by Empire State Development (ESD), the host of the meeting, was how the arena could host guests within state guidelines, and how many guests, since audiences have not been allowed at sporting events in the city.  

(The latest state guidance I could find was here. The state modified on 12/30/20 modified the rules for Buffalo Bills outdoor football games.)
From State Guidance

So I emailed Gutmann, who responded: 
As you know, we honored 62 essential workers at Opening Night, and then have had a reduced program since. We have been in direct contact with the highest levels of the state government and have received their approval. We've had no paid fans to date.
ESD presumably represents--or is in contact with--the highest levels of state government, too.

Following up: Food Pantry

Regarding the Food Pantry, is Barclays/Nets paying for all of that, or HSS, or other sponsors? 

Gutmann's response: "The Food Pantry is a program with the Nets and HSS, none of our other corporate partners. The info available on the program is in the release." 

Well, it just says that they've "teamed up." The reason I asked is that the Nets/Barclays may get the halo when they get their partners to pay for things.

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