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North American arenas compensate part-time employees

Amid widespread cancellations of live entertainment and sporting events, several arenas in North America are taking steps to ensure the livelihoods of their part-time staff.

Large venues including Staples Center (20,000-cap.) in Los Angeles, Smoothie King Center (17,791-seat) in New Orleans and Scotiabank Saddledome (19,289-seat) in Calgary have created employee funds for non-salaried workers who have been affected by coronavirus-induced closures.

In LA, the AEG-operated Staples Center – along with its sports-team tenants, the LA Lakers, LA Clippers and LA Kings – have established a compensation scheme for wages lost by part-time employees.

Payments from the fund, according to NHL.com, will be distributed among more than 2,800 hourly event employees, including box-office staff, ushers, security, stagehands, operations staff, car park attendants and F&B sellers.

Meanwhile, Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, has announced plans to establish an ‘Arena Assistance Fund’ for those left out of pocket by the cancellation of upcoming NBA basketball games.

“We want to do our part to assist those that have been impacted in our community”

Benson, whose teams play at ASM Global’s Smoothie King Center, has also made a personal donation of US$1 million to create the Gayle Benson Community Fund to remunerate Pelicans employees, as well as local ‘gig economy’ workers in New Orleans.

“We have been meeting and planning a response since the NBA’s announcement to suspend games. Our meaningful discussions have led to what we believe is the most impactful way to best serve the needs of our community as a whole,” she says. “We want to do our part to assist those that have been impacted in our community.”

North of the Canadian border, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), which owns the Calgary Flames ice-hockey team and operates the Saddledome, has similarly announced it will pay part-time and hourly employees while the Flames’ season is on hold.

San Francisco’s Chase Center has also established a $1m ‘disaster relief fund’, to be funded by the owners, players and coaches of NBA squad Golden State Warriors, to pay employees while the 19,500-capacity venue is empty.

Yesterday, US president Donald Trump recommended Americans refrain from gathering in groups of more than ten until the end of the month, as well as the closure of bars, restaurants, clubs and schools.


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