Athletes, Teams Pledging to Pay Arena Employees During Coronavirus Shutdown

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Athletes and teams are helping out-of-work arena employees continue to get paid as the coronavirus spread disrupts the sports calendar. 

Shortly after the NBA suspended play last Wednesday, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban helped start the initiative when he said he would set up a payment plan for his arena's hourly workers. Many others have followed Cuban's lead and shown that even during hard times the sports community sticks together.

In the U.S., the NBA, NHL and MLS have all suspended their seasons due to the coronavirus outbreak, while MLB postponed the start of its upcoming season.

Many current and retired athletes have also donated memorabilia to Athletes for COVID-19 Relief to raise money for the Center for Disease Philanthropy's response fund. Anyone can make a $25 donation and be entered to win their favorite player's signed memorabilia. Athletes who have contributed items include David Ortiz, Steph Curry, Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, Elena Delle Donne and more.

Here's a look at all the players and teams who have pledged to support arena employees:

NBA:

NHL:

  • Panthers: Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will donate $100,000 to support part-time staffers who work at BB&T Center. His teammates will match his pledge, and the team's ownership also plans to contribute.
  • Penguins: The team announced a plan to pay part-time and full-time employees during the suspended NHL season. Funding will come from players, the Penguins Foundation and the Mario Lemieux Foundation.
  • Blackhawks: The United Center ownership, the Bulls and Blackhawks will pay game-day employees through the remainder of the originally scheduled seasons.
  • Ducks: Owners Henry and Susan Samueli of the Ducks and the Honda Center will continue to pay full- and part-time employees through March 31.
  • Maple Leafs: Players, coaches and management across all Toronto teams are pitching in to form a fund for workers of local venues. 
  • Devils: Owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer will pay hourly employees and event staff members for postponed Devils games and Prudential Center events.  
  • Lightning: Owner Jeff Vinik will compensate part-time employees through the end of March. This includes people who were scheduled to work at the NCAA tournament and other Amalie Arena events.
  • Flyers: The hourly workers at Wells Fargo Center will be compensated through at least the end of March.
  • Senators: Ottawa has developed a program based on the individual needs of its staff. These programs will help any part-time employee who requires support to avoid financial hardship during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Wild: The Wild will pay their part-time employees scheduled to work the final six games of the regular season that have been suspended.
  • Canadiens: Montreal will provide financial support to its 1,200 game-day employees who were scheduled to work remaining regular-season Canadiens and Laval Rockets games that have since been suspended. Canadiens players will also offer additional financial contributions.
  • Oilers: The nearly 1,650 part-time employees at Rogers Place will receive financial assistance from the team.
  • Blues: The organization created the Blues Employee Assistance Fund to financially assist gameday workers at Enterprise Center due to the pause in the NHL season.
  • Canucks: The team established a financial assistance program for part-time employees and is looking into additional employment opportunities for them in the community.
  • Capitals: Owner Ted Leonsis told Capital One Arena workers that they will be paid through March 31 for any Wizards or Capitals games they were scheduled to work, according to The Athletic's Tarik El-Bashir.
  • Flames: Calgary adopted an income bridge support program for qualifying employees.
  • Red Wings: Ilitch Holdings announced that it set up a $1 million fund to cover a month's wages for part-time and event staff, including those impacted by canceled Tigers spring training games. The company owns the Tigers and Red Wings and operates Little Caesars Arena, where the Pistons and Red Wings play.
  • Jets: True North Sports & Entertainment announced that all "casual and part-time employees will be paid in full" for all remaining Jets and Manitoba Moose home games through the end of March.
  • Bruins: The Jacobs family established a $1.5 million fund for Bruins and TD Garden part-time gameday employees who will be financially burdened if the final games of the regular season are not played. 

MLB:

  • Astros: Star outfielder George Springer is donating $100,000 to help support Minute Maid Park employees during the sports shutdown.
  • Indians: Pitcher Trevor Bauer started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $1 million for MLB game day staff. Bauer donated $10,000 of his own money.
  • Cardinals: Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright and his wife, Jenny, have donated $250,000 to Cardinals minor leaguers during the coronavirus crisis. 
  • Tigers: Ilitch Holdings announced on Friday that Detroit is setting up a $1 million fund to cover a month's wages for part-time and event staff, including those impacted by the canceled Spring Training games. The company owns the Tigers and Red Wings and operates Little Caesars Arena, where the Pistons and Red Wings play.
  • Blue Jays: Players, coaches and management across all Toronto teams are pitching in to form a fund for workers of local venues. 
  • Braves: First baseman Freddie Freeman pledged to donate $50,000 to the Atlanta Food Bank, $25,000 to The Salvation Army and $50,000 to Giving Kitchen, which provides emergency assistance to food-service workers. 
  • MLB Teams: All 30 teams have pledged to give $1 million each to support ballpark employees, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.

NFL:

49ers: The team has pledged to give $500,000 to support employees and the greater San Francisco community in response to the ongoing pandemic.

This post will be updated.