How NHL clubs will pay part-time workers during COVID-19 shutdown
As of March 21, all NHL teams have announced plans to pay part-time workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NHL suspended its season on March 12, following a meeting with the league’s Board of Governors. As players and team personnel prepare for uncharted territory, arena staff, part-time and hourly workers are immensely worried about how it will affect their ability to make a living.
Here’s how each club is handling how they’ll pay workers throughout the suspension of the season.
Anaheim Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli — who also operate the Honda Center — committed to paying all full-time and part-time employees who were scheduled to work three Ducks games, three Big West basketball tournament games, and two concerts during March.
The Arizona Coyotes announced they will support the arena's part-time and hourly employees previously scheduled to work the remaining Coyotes eight home games through the end of the NHL's regular season.
"We pride ourselves on treating all our staff and players like they are part of our family," said Coyotes Owner, Chairman & Governor Alex Meruelo. "I value my team members and am committed to making sure that everyone remains safe, secure and part of our great team. We are going through a difficult time right now and how we respond to this challenge will define us. Through our resiliency and our ongoing commitment to our team members, we will emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified."
The Bruins became the last of all NHL teams to announce plans to pay part-time and game day workers, but not without controversy. On March 21 the Jacobs Family announced a $1.5-million fund for part-time and game day workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, similarly to the Buffalo Sabres, employees will only be paid if the remaining regular season games are cancelled. Workers will not receive any financial support until the NHL comes to a decision on how to proceed with the rest of the regular season, which could take weeks or months.
Pegula Sports and Entertainment announced on March 14 that game day employees will be compensated if the games in which they are scheduled to work are cancelled. Right now, the games are considered ‘suspended’ and not ‘cancelled’. Employees may have to wait weeks or months to be paid lost wages depending on the NHL’s next move.
KeyBank Center in Buffalo was scheduled to host at least seven events this month, including five Sabres games and two National Lacrosse League games.
In a controversial decision, the Flames elected not to pay their part-time employees for cancelled shifts due to COVID-19 at first. Several players on the Flames are listed among the names of people that have donated to a GoFundMe page for the employees that are out of work.
After listening to their employees and receiving plenty of backlash, the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation announced on March 15 that they created an income bridge support program for their part-time employees that have been affected financially by COVID-19. Full release here.
Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, announced that the team will compensate PNC Arena and Hurricanes event staff for lost wages due to the 2019-20 NHL season being paused. Hourly staff will be compensated based on expected workload during the team's final seven March regular-season home games. Full release here.
In a statement from Rocky Wirtz, the owner of the Blackhawks, and Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Bulls, both teams that play out of the United Center have agreed to pay approximately 1,200 game day employees for the remainder of what would be the regular season for both clubs.
Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, owners of the Nuggets and Avalanche, announced on March 14 it will continue to pay its part-time and hourly employees for the next 30 days as the leagues wait out their respective suspensions.
Columbus Blue Jackets
On March 16, the Blue Jackets and arena management agreed to pay hourly game-day staffers for shifts lost in all regular-season games not played.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban addressed the issue immediately upon the NBA’s suspension, instantly pledging to create a program for hourly workers at the American Airlines Center including those who work Dallas Stars games.
Detroit Red Wings
Ilitch Companies, the company that owns the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, 313 Presents, Fox Theatre, and Little Caesars Arena, created a $1-million fund for part-time staff that would’ve worked games and events prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. The fund will also cover workers who were scheduled to work eight Detroit Pistons home games. Full statement here.
Oilers Entertainment Group have started an assistance program for their hourly staff that have been affected by the suspension of the season.
“The pause of NHL hockey, concerts and events at Rogers Place has hit everyone hard, but it has created an even more difficult situation for our nearly 1,650 part time staff. As a result, we are rolling out an assistance program to ensure their well-being is protected,” said OEG President Business & Chief Operating Officer Tom Anselmi in a statement on Saturday.
Star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was inspired by fellow big-ticket athletes across other leagues taking care of their organization’s part-time and arena employees, and pledged a $100K of his own to the cause.
Panthers ownership also will contribute to help part-time employees make up for lost wages because of canceled or postponed events at BB&T Center.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings — along with the Lakers and Clippers — have set up a fund for roughly 2,800 hourly event staff of the Staples Center. The fund has been designed to provide compensation for the lost wages.
In addition to paying their part-time employees through what would be the remainder of the regular season, the Wild and the Xcel Energy Center announced on March 17 that over 2,400 pounds of perishable food items from the arena, have been donated to various local charities.
The Canadiens announced an assistance program for the roughly 1,200 game-day employees.
Event staff who aren't eligible to receive employment insurance will get 75 percent of their salary for the rest of the regular season. Any employees eligible to receive employment insurance will have their benefits topped up by 40 percent so the employees will receive 95 per cent of their regular pay for the remaining games.
Nashville Predators President and CEO Sean Henry announced that Bridgestone Arena employees will still be paid for games and events they won’t get to work due to the National Hockey League’s suspended season.
New Jersey Devils
Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer committed to paying hourly workers and event staff for cancelled games and events at the Prudential Center.
“Employees are family. It’s important to band together and lift each other up during these times,” Harris and Blitzer said via Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Employees of the Devils making more than $50,000 were informed by Harris that they would undergo temporary pay cuts of up to 20%, according to the New York Times.
New York Islanders
The Brooklyn Nets announced they will pay all part-time arena workers at Barclays Center, including those working concerts and New York Islanders games until the end of May, unless events are rescheduled before that.
New York Rangers
Madison Square Garden announced that event-driven employees - such as those who work at MSG on game nights for the Knicks and Rangers - will be paid through the next pay period, ending March 22, as the NBA and NHL navigate the coronavirus crisis.
Owner Eugene Melnyk is personally pledging to pay part-time arena staff for lost wages from the COVID-19 pandemic for both the Ottawa Senators and AHL affiliate Belleville Senators.
Comcast Spectacor will continue paying arena employees and full-time Comcast Spectacor employees at least for the next two weeks, according to a statement by the company’s president of business operations.
Full- and part-time arena and service employees at PPG Paints Arena—the home of the Penguins—will be paid by committee, the team announced on March 13. The necessary money to compensate these individuals will come from “Pittsburgh Penguins players, the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and the Mario Lemieux Foundation.” Full release here.
San Jose Sharks
Part-time employees who were scheduled to work Sharks and Barracuda games at SAP Center in March will be compensated by Sharks Sports & Entertainment, a representative from the organization announced on March 13.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues announced they are creating a Blues Employee Assistance Fund to lessen the financial hardship being suffered by game-night workers at the Enterprise Center.
The fund will provide support to several hundred employees who report directly to and are paid by the Blues organization on game nights. The fund will be administered by the Blues for Kids charitable foundation. Full release here.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Lightning owner Jeff Vinik released a comprehensive plan to pay their part-time employees through the end of the March, which includes seven Lightning games and six NCAA tournament games.
Vinik Sports Group also released a plan called VSG Cares to provide assistance to full-time and part-time workers with housing, food and other utilities needed, with hardships created by the suspension of the league.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Five major Toronto sports teams have joined forces to create a special assistance fund for their part-time employees that have lost work due to the coronavirus. The group announced what they’re referring to as the “Team Toronto Fund” on March 15 that they were finalizing programs to help their part-time and event staff financially—a group “of close to 4,000 dedicated event personnel.”
According to a statement from Trent Carroll, chief operating officer of Canucks Sports and Entertainment, the Canucks will be providing some form of financial relief for part-time employees. Making the following announcement on March 13.
“Canucks Sports & Entertainment (CSE) recognizes the importance of its staff to our fans, our arena experience and business overall. CSE has committed to a program that will help any part-time employee who requires support. The program will be based on individual need, to avoid financial hardship during this unexpected employment disruption.”
Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights pledged a minimum of $500,000 to game day employees and arena staff.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury pledged an additional $100,000 to the efforts,
“A big part of what makes the Golden Knights game day experience so memorable is the staff working behind the scenes. As players we truly appreciate all the employees who work so hard in making The Fortress the best place to play in the NHL,” Fleury’s statement said. “My family and I hope that these contributions not only help those in need, but also inspire others who are in fortunate positions to step up and find ways to help too.”
Ted Leonsis, Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO and Chairman and owner of the Washington Wizards and Capitals, will pay arena workers through at least the end of March while the NBA and NHL seasons are indefinitely suspended.
Similarly to the Flames, the Jets reversed their initial decision to not pay their casual and part-time events staff and will now be honouring the hours scheduled for these employees through March 31, the date for the Jets’ final home game of the regular season.
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