With the coronavirus pandemic causing suspension of professional and amateur sports around the world, teams have begun to address payrolls occupied by temporarily obsolete ushers and concessions workers.
A letter titled "Operational Impact of Coronavirus” states that employees of Boston's TD Garden, home of the Celtics and Bruins, “will not be scheduled until the conditions at our unit allows us to resume normal operations. As this situation is rapidly evolving, we will continue to update you with the anticipated date that we will resume business. We hope to provide as much notice as possible.” The letter, obtained by The Boston Globe as reported by Sports Illustrated, also states that employees may be eligible for unemployment and that those in charge of TD Garden hoped the changes would be “short-lived.”
Tuesday's layoffs come just days removed from Bruins ownership establishing a $1.5 million fund for part-time employees of TD Garden and the Bruins.
The situation in Boston is not isolated, as reported by SI.
Groupe CH, the group that owns the Canadiens, announced Tuesday that it will temporarily lay off 60 percent of its employees due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the sports industry. The organization has created a $6 million assistance fund so employees will receive insurance benefits for eight weeks and 80 percent of their base salary during this time. Groupe CH plans to bring employees back to work as soon as it's able to.
According to SI, the Pegula Family, owners of Buffalo's Bills and Sabres, laid off a majority of its food services and hospitality staff late last week as result of the COVID-19 pandemic — with no obvious guarantees of a return to the fold, or the same pay, once it's over. "As a valuable asset to our hospitality family when business returns to normalcy, we encourage you to come back and apply for an open position. You will be amongst the first considered to re-join our teams,” Dominic Verni, the vice president of hospitality with Pegula Sports and Entertainment, said in a letter.
In a related matter this week, Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris reversed his earlier decision to cut staff pay by 20 percent during the pandemic. As reported by CBS Sports, Harris admitted his initial decision was wrong.
"Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation. As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20 percent pay cut for preserving everyone's full benefits — and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. After listening to our staff and players, it's clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be playing these employees their full salaries. This is￼￼ an extraordinary time in our world — unlike any most of us have ever lived through before -- and ordinary business decisions are not enough to meet the moment. To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong."