The NBA and NHL suspending their seasons due to the threat of COVID-19, or the coronavirus, will have ripple effects that are both near and far reaching. One of the most immediate concerns in communities was that it would take away a source of revenue for both full and part-time workers at arenas like Staples Center — home to the Lakers, Clippers and L.A. Kings — that host both NBA and NHL games.
That won’t be the case at Staples Center, however, as those three tenants are teaming up to make sure those workers are taken care of, according to Kyle Goon and Mirjam Swanson of the O.C. Register:
The Lakers, Clippers, Kings and AEG are finalizing details of a plan that would compensate the hundreds of part-time and contract workers who staff Staples Center’s biggest events. It’s a measure that could help allay concerns that the most vulnerable workers will keep a steady income during NBA, NHL and event shutdowns due to the coronavirus outbreak.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles hospitality workers’ union, Unite Here Local 11, put out a statement calling on the owners of Los Angeles area sports teams to support these workers that are now out of a job for (at least) the next month as the NBA, NHL and other leagues figure out their next steps.
“Our members are on the frontline of not just the threat of exposure to the coronavirus, but they are also on the frontline of the potential economic downturn,” said Susan Minato, the co-president of Local 11, in the statement. “We need to stand by them, just like they stand by their teams.”
The statement said that the union had sent letters to the Lakers, Clippers, Sparks, Dodgers, Kings, Angels, Galaxy and LAFC saying that “in a spirit of shared sacrifice... we write to ask that your company step in to help ensure that the stadium’s subcontracted food service workers are provided with wages and healthcare benefits that they would have received were they able to work” during the stoppages.
Now, at the very least, the Lakers, Clippers and Kings have done so, joining a wave of teams and players who have stepped in to help during this crisis.
Dallas Mavericks team governor Mark Cuban immediately set a precedent, announcing on the night the season was suspended that he would make sure arena workers were paid through the stoppage. Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is donating $100,000 of his own money to support arena workers. Detroit Pistons Blake Griffin is doing the same. Pelicans star Zion Williamson is covering the salaries of New Orleans Pelicans arena workers for the next 30 days.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo have each pledged matching donations for the part-time staff at the Fiserv Forum. The Portland Trail Blazers are working on a plan for their own arena workers, while the Atlanta Hawks have committed to taking care of theirs, as have the Washington Wizards (through the rest of this month).
In the NHL, the New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers have all announced some form of plan to pay stadium staff affected by these stoppages.
Right now, the NBA has said that it will not re-evaluate whether to re-start the season or not for at least 30 days, while the NHL has not set such a date publicly, which would have left the Staples Center workers scheduled to work Lakers, Clippers and Kings games without work for significant time were this plan not being set into motion. With it in place, ideally most of the arena staff will no longer have to search for a new job in the middle of a pandemic.
According to Forbes valuations, the Lakers were the eighth most valuable sports team in the world in 2019, worth an estimated $3.7 billion. Clippers team governor Steve Ballmer is the ninth-richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $58.1 billion. Philip Anschutz (who owns the Kings, Staples Center and one third of the Lakers through AEG) is worth an estimated $11.3 billion. Kudos to these billionaire entities for not making their players be the ones to step up. It would be nice if other teams did the same.