The spread of the coronavirus has caused the cancellation of major sporting events and concerts throughout the country, causing financial uncertainty for thousands of arena workers. In a show of solidarity with their hourly and part-time workers, many arenas are finding ways to soften the economic impact to their employees.
Arenas throughout California including Staples Center in Los Angeles, Chase Center in San Francisco and Golden 1 Center in Sacramento have all committed to paying arena staff scheduled to work cancelled events through at least the end of March. Postponed concerts throughout the three venues will include performances from Celine Dion, Billie Eilish, Post Malone and more.
For Staples Center, NHL’s Kings and the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers have donated to a fund to help more than 2,800 active hourly event staff from ushers to parking attendants, while the Golden State Warriors’ ownership, players and coaches are helping Chase Center support employ more than 1,000 part-time employees who would have worked their remaining seven games.
“The last few days have been extremely challenging for all Bay Area citizens as we deal with the hourly changes in this unprecedented situation,” said Warriors co-executive chairman and CEO Joe Lacob in a statement. “Our players, coaches, ownership and management have been focused on creating a way to assist our part-time employees. We are addressing the potential hardships these hard-working individuals may encounter during this hiatus in the NBA season. While everyone and every business is impacted, those who are fortunate enough to be in a position to help, need to help.”
“The men and women who work our games at Chase Center are critical in providing an incredible game-night experience for our fans, including of course, the popcorn vendors,” said Warriors guard Stephen Curry in a statement. “As players, we wanted to do something, along with our ownership and coaches, to help ease the pain during this time.”
The California arenas join State Farm Arena in Atlanta, which promises to pay employees for cancelled dates and the Barclay’s Center in New York who will pay all employees for all Brooklyn Nets and non-team affiliated events originally scheduled. State Farm Arena was expected to see shows from comedian Gabriel Iglesias, while Barclays has had to postpone performances from Eilish, Elton John and more.
Hourly employees “keep the lights on and the house clean, and they are the first ones to arrive and last ones to leave the building,” Barclays Center said in a post on social media on March 14. “It is our goal to alleviate the hit to household cash flow from work stoppage for people impacted so they can pay for necessary expenses such as rent, utilities, food and daily necessities. We want to let our Barclays Center staff know that nobody is left behind and we are in this together.”
Kroenke Sports and Entertainment which runs Colorado venues Pepsi Center, Paramount Theatre, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and 1STBANK Center has committed to paying all of its employees for the next 30 days and donated six pallets worth of food scheduled for use at cancelled events to locals in need.
“It is a very trying time for our tight-knit sports community, but more importantly for human beings in general,” said KSE vice-chairman Josh Kroenke in a release. “My father and I have personally had many conversations with coaches, players, executives, and support staff from our teams and clubs around the world, and it is inspiring to hear the determination to not only get through this difficult period but also to help and motivate others while doing so. From all of us here at KSE and on behalf of my family, please stay smart, stay safe, and support one another. We look forward to seeing all of our fans back in our venues at the appropriate time!”
Both Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee and American Airlines Arena in Dallas have committed to helping employees eat during the closures in addition to compensating them for lost wages. Fiserv Forum has postponed shows from Blake Shelton and Michael Bublé, while American Airlines Arena is forced to reschedules Disney on Ice and Ricardo Montaner.
The NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks is offering family meals for all part and full-time employees. Over 600 workers are eligible to stop by the facility to take home meals for a family of four.
The NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was one of the first owners to address the concern for assisting arena employees on March 11 during a press conference. Following the news that American Airlines Arena would continue to pay employees for the six games scheduled during the hiatus, the arena also announced a reimbursement program for its employees’ meals. The team announced Saturday that it would reimburse all employees for breakfast and lunch meals ordered from local Texas businesses during the duration of the shut down.
“At a time when people may feel the financial strain of business closures, social distancing and more, supporting our local community is even more important,” said Cuban in a statement. “While encouraging my team to take care of themselves and those around them and to use healthy practices, I also encourage them to support our local North Texas businesses, and I am happy to partner with Dallas Mavericks staff to do so.”