MIAMI (AP) -- The Miami Heat have laid off employees as the national economic downturn has hit the AmericanAirlines Arena.

Heat team president Eric Woolworth said in a statement that the team had eliminated a small number of positions. Employees who were laid off Wednesday will receive a severance package and be eligible to be rehired.

"The Heat Group and its employees remain focused on delivering a quality experience to guests and sponsors," Woolworth said in his statement.

A team spokesman said in an e-mail that the Heat weren't commenting on the number of layoffs that occurred, but the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported about 20 employees lost their jobs.

"These challenging economic times mandate that every organization maximize efficiencies and remain strong," Woolworth said.

The newspaper reported that all of the layoffs were made on the business side of team's operation.

Among those laid off was Wali Jones, the team's community affairs liaison and a former NBA player and scout. According to the team's Web site, Jones, who has an economics degree from Villanova, has spent about two decades with the organization.

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