The Immorality of Not Paying Arena Workers

by Howie Brown

Local arena workers laid off due to COVID-19

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Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has ensured his workers will be payed

Amidst the cancellation of all sporting activities in the US due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many NBA organizations have begun cutting wages of arena workers. On March 11, league commissioner Adam Silver announced that the NBA would suspend league play for at least 30 days. Although it is yet to be confirmed, many NBA executives believe that the league will only return in June as a “best-case scenario.” The suspension of the NBA leaves teams with no substantial way of profit without ticket sales. Although the NBA is suspended, organizations must ensure that arena workers are looked out for and are continued to be paid just as the players are.

NBA teams usually bring in around 2 billion dollars per year. Although this number is extremely high, NBA teams use much of this money for assets including arena maintenance, players’ contracts, executives’ salaries. In addition to these large deposits, organizations additionally spend a small fraction of this money to pay arena workers. Without ticketing and other marketing like merchandise sales in stadiums, the generated revenue for this season is bound to decrease. Players and league executives have spoken about whether players should take pay cuts but have not agreed on a deal. League organizations have not yet installed pay cuts on players to compensate for the loss of revenue. However, it seems like the NBA organizations like the Celtics have decided to let off the arena workers instead. While the average player makes almost 8 million dollars per year, many of these arena workers may rely on each and every paycheck. Yes, players do bring people to games and generate revenue, but without these workers, the games could not be played. Before you even get to your seat in an NBA arena, you have to go through countless workers assuring you and the rest of the people in the arena are satisfied and safe.

The first NBA executive to speak about the arena workers was the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban. In a post-game interview that took place only hours after the NBA’s suspension, Cuban stated that the Dallas Mavericks would continue to pay the arena workers despite the league’s cancelation. Unfortunately, other teams have hesitated to pay workers. The Philadelphia 76ers announced that they would be laying off most of the arena workers at the Wells Fargo Center. The organization immediately received backlash from the city of Philadelphia through social media; therefore, ten days later, the owner, Josh Harris, released a statement saying that workers would be taking a 20% pay cut instead. The owner released a statement on behalf of the team, acknowledging their mistake: “to our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.”

In addition, other organizations have been irresponsible and frankly inconsiderate regarding worker pay. Kevin Love, a player for the Cleveland Cavaliers, announced he would donate $100,000 to Cavs workers. Before this action, the team had planned on not supporting the workers through the suspension. Only after the donation, the team announced they would start a plan to compensate the workers. Several other players––including reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson––have announced their donations to local arena workers. Although it is considerate of them to support the workers, it should not be their responsibility; the leaders of the organizations should be paying their employees. NBA players along with arena workers are employed by organizations, so both of them should be paid or receive equal pay cuts. Seeing organizations not pay their workers is clear evidence that the front office does not value their workers the way they should. Whether organizations are supporting their arena workers through this crisis indicates whether the organization is run under proper morality and values.

It is unfortunate to know that some teams have almost neglected their hard-working employees, and the hope is that the NBA season can come back safely and quickly, so these workers can return to their jobs and get paid.