The Memphis Grizzlies and owner Robert Pera said they will continue paying game night employees, despite the NBA suspending the rest of the season due to the coronavirus outbreak. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he will do the same. The NBA postponed the rest of the season on Wednesday, setting a precedent followed by the NHL and MLB.
Pera, who has not made a public statement on the decision, and the Grizzlies will pay employees for all March games, reports the Daily Memphian. If more games are missed, Grizzlies employees will still be paid. However, the decision does not cover other employees, like concession workers employed by Levy, which will have to make a separate decision.
The Grizzlies said single game tickets already bought for postponed games will be accepted when the game is rescheduled. If the game is scrapped or played without fans, refunds will be made at the point of purchase.
On Wednesday, Cuban announced he would continue paying employees of American Airlines Center as if games were continuing in March.
"It was one of the first things that crossed my mind, in that, when we postponed games, those folks who do all the jobs you mentioned aren't going to get paid. People who are working by the hour aren't going to get paid," Cuban said on Fox News. "So, we put together a program where we're going to pay them as if those games took place. We would have had a game coming up tomorrow, and we'll pay them as if that game happened."
Cuban went on to urge other business leaders to follow suit.
"And, I say the same thing to hourly workers," the Shark Tank star said. "Be cognizant of the circumstances of your company. You know, if CEOs and even small entrepreneurs can work together with their employees, you can find a resolution and, hopefully, over the next couple of months all the virus stuff resolves itself and everybody can keep their jobs. But, it's going to take CEOs and employees working together to make that happen."
The NBA was the first of the four major American sports leagues to suspend operations due to the coronavirus outbreak. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver moved quickly on Wednesday after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. Jazz player Donovan Mitchell later tested positive as well.
Silver said the NBA's hiatus will last at least 30 days, and the league plans to finish the 2019-2020 season when it can.
"In the meantime, we will continue to coordinate with infectious disease and public health experts along with government officials to determine safe protocols for resuming our games," Silver said in a statement. "As we develop the appropriate course for future NBA games and events, we will keep you informed of any changes as soon as they happen. Tickets already purchased for a postponed game will be honored when the game is rescheduled. If games are not played or played in an empty arena, teams will work with fans on a credit for a future game or a refund."
The NHL also paused its 2019-2020 season. The MLB announced Opening Day, which was scheduled for March 26, has been postponed for at least two weeks. Spring Training was also suspended and players have been allowed to leave their team's facilities.
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