Now that the dust is settling and everyone is beginning to adjust to our new social-distancing normal, the national conversation around the novel coronavirus has in some ways moved on to discuss how regular workers can survive economically. Politicians are working on bills to help provide a safety net for Americans who will undoubtedly be affected by lost wages because of work stoppages or, worse, terminations. Those bills, however, won't pay the current bills of people such as game-day stadium workers, who often live paycheck-to-paycheck and can't afford to wait for a magical lifeline.
The Miami Heat, thankfully, recently announced it won't make its employees wait. Not only will the franchise take care of its own workers, but it will also pay the staffs of partner companies, including Levy Restaurants (the arena's food and beverage concessionaire), Contemporary Services Corporation (which provides security), and Pritchard Sports & Entertainment (the arena's housekeeping provider). Heat owner Micky Arison and his wife Madeleine have also pledged $1 million toward community needs, because there's sure to be collateral damage from the worst pandemic this generation has ever seen.
In a statement, Heat business operations president Eric Woolworth said the 1,000-plus employees within the Heat organization "are the backbone of our business."
"Night in and night out, every single one of these employees works tirelessly to provide our guests and our community with the best experience in sports and entertainment," Woolworth said. "They deserve our help as we all navigate this unpredictable situation together."
The Heat's declaration to make everyone associated with the franchise financially whole during the COVID-19 crisis comes on the heels of the Miami Marlins' pledge of $1 million to ballpark employees, a move all 30 Major League Baseball teams promised to make at their respective ballparks. The Marlins made it clear that although their season hasn't yet begun, employees will not miss paychecks even though the season will be delayed.
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Marlins owner Derek Jeter released a statement addressing the matter and asking everyone to continue doing their best to fight the spread of the virus.
"This is an unprecedented time and this is certainly an unprecedented decision that was made in the best interest of the players, fans and communities across the country," Jeter said. "We urge everyone to continue to exercise the preventive measures set forth by the CDC and stay informed regarding the latest developments on this virus."
Good on South Florida's professional sports teams for lifting up the people who keep fans safe and happy and who help provide a carefree place of entertainment in more normal times. When this crisis is over and normalcy returns, these gestures by the Heat and Marlins will not be forgotten.