With the NFL lockout dragging on with no end in sight, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are taking a dramatic step by shutting down their offices next week.
With the Memorial Day holiday approaching, the Bucs will ask employees to stay home for the remainder of the four-day work week — without pay — in a cost-cutting maneuver. The move now puts the Bucs among the growing list of teams that have either cut or furloughed employees during this NFL work stoppage.
But the Bucs say there's a chance the impact could be offset if the NFL season goes according to plan.
"The Buccaneers remain hopeful that the 2011 season will be played without interruption; presuming this occurs, the plan will essentially provide the team's entire staff with an extra week of paid vacation," team spokesman Jonathan Grella said. "And more importantly, this plan preserves jobs and does not ask employees to work for less or no pay."
With the potential for canceled games increasing with each day, teams are looking for ways to trim costs in anticipation of future lost revenues.
In some cases, owners claim they're already feeling the hit. Though the Bucs decline to release specific ticket data, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said this week at a meeting of league owners that there has been a "noticeable change" in sales from a year ago, meaning teams have less money at their disposal.
As for the impact of the lockout on employees, Goodell said: "They all understand the circumstances we are going through. Clubs have to deal with their employees. Everyone has a different approach. We told everybody, this is a collective sacrifice. We are going through a difficult period of time and we do it together. We are all going to feel that impact. And that is the unfortunate circumstance of where we are. Hopefully we can still get it resolved and we'll all be fine."
The Bucs said employees were made aware of the possibility of furloughs in March, before the lockout began. If the lockout drags into the latter part of the year, similar furloughs will be implemented during the Labor Day holiday and in the winter, the team said.