The NHL and NBA suspended their 2019-2020 seasons this week in response to the coronavirus pandemic. While owners and players around both leagues have stepped up, saying hourly workers will be compensated for their lost hours, Kim and Terry Pegula, owners of the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills, have taken a wait-and-see approach.
“As of now, we expect the games to be rescheduled. We are evaluating next steps should the games be cancelled,” said the Pegulas in a statement regarding the game-night employees at the KeyBank Center, home of the Sabres.
John Vogl of The Athletic reports further evaluation is being done, but this clearly means the team isn’t going to pay employees now because they fully expect to pay them later.
In addition to the Bills and Sabres, the Pegulas own the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse team and Rochester Americans minor league hockey team who are both also on hiatus.
In a statement posted to Twitter at 2:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Kim Pegula reinforced that gameday employees would be paid if games were cancelled. There was no mention of paying those employees during the hiatus.
A statement from PSE Owner/CEO Kim Pegula: pic.twitter.com/BaCQBE4k0Y— Pegula Sports & Entertainment (@PegulaSE) March 14, 2020
Here how other team owners are responding:
- Jeff Vinik, owner the Tampa Bay Lightning, is paying workers through the end of the month including for missed time during the NCAA basketball tournament
- Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who own the New Jersey Devils, are paying all hourly and event staff for the postponed games
- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was the first to come out and say he was going to compensate arena workers
- Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks has donated $100,000 to arena workers
- New Orleans Pelicans star rookie Zion Williamson has said he will cover the salaries for all arena workers for the next 30 days
- Blake Griffin is donating $100,000 to Detroit Pistons arena workers
- Ownership and players on the Golden State Warriors banded together to donate $1 million to Chase Center workers affected by the shutdown
- Owners of several other NHL teams have agreed to some form of compensation according to NHL blog Russian Machine Never Breaks: Anaheim Ducks (Henry Samueli), Dallas Stars (Tom Gaglardi), Detroit Red Wings (Chris Ilitch), Florida Panthers (Vincent Viola), Nashville Predators (ownership group chairman Herb Fritch), Philadelphia Flyers (Brian L. Roberts), Pittsburgh Penguins (Ronald Burkle), San Jose Sharks (Hasso Plattner), Toronto Maple Leafs (Larry Tanenbaum), and Washington Capitals (Ted Leonsis)
Russian Machine Never Breaks has this list of NHL owners who have not committed to paying event staff. Names in bold are billionaires.
The Naughty List
Arizona Coyotes – Alex Meruelo
Boston Bruins – Jeremy Jacobs
Buffalo Sabres – Terrence Pegula
Calgary Flames – N. Murray Edwards
Carolina Hurricanes – Tom Dundon
Chicago Blackhawks – Rocky Wirtz
Colorado Avalanche – Ann Walton Kroenke
Columbus Blue Jackets – John P. McConnell
Edmonton Oilers – Daryl Katz
Los Angeles Kings – Philip Anschutz
Minnesota Wild – Craig Leipold
Montreal Canadiens – Geoff Molson
New York Islanders – Scott D. Malkin (approx. $200 million)
New York Rangers – James L. Dolan
Ottawa Senators – Eugene Melnyk
St. Louis Blues – Tom Stillman (net worth unknown)
Vancouver Canucks – Francesco Aquilini
Vegas Golden Knights – Bill Foley (approx. $500 million)
Winnipeg Jets – Mark Chipman (approx. $500 million) and David Thomson (*$36 billion*)
It should also be noted that Delaware North is contracted to operate the concessions at KeyBank Center and New Era Field as well as Blue Cross Arena. The majority of employees that work an event are paid directly by Delaware North, not the Pegulas. Delware North, like the Boston Bruins, is owned by Jeremy Jacobs and his family.