TAMPA — A day after the NHL announced a pause in its season due to coronavirus concerns, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Vinik Sports Group announced a compensation plan for Amalie Arena’s part-time employees who were previously scheduled to work hockey games and other arena events through March.
This timetable includes: the seven home Lightning games that were postponed; the six March Madness men’s basketball games Tampa was supposed to host next week; any other events hosted at the Yuengling Center and Amalie Arena.
Vinik and his sports group also will launch an internal program called “VSG Cares” to help provide assistance for full- and part-time employees facing temporary financial hardships. The program will help employees (and their families) with housing, utilities, food, transportation and other essential needs, according to a news release.
“We pride ourselves on doing the right thing for our employees, especially in times of need,” Vinik Sports Group CEO Steve Griggs said. "Jeff Vinik is a fantastic owner and we understand that our organization is where it is because of the people that work here — our ‘family’ is what makes our business so strong and during these uncertain times, we want to step forward and be there for these employees.”
Other teams have initiated similar programs for their arena employees.
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said he would donate $100,000 to the workers at BB&T Center to help alleviate financial concerns. His teammates promised to match that amount with ownership chipping in as needed.
Ted Leonsis told Capital One Arena workers they would also get compensated for events previously scheduled this month, including Washington Capitals and Wizards games. Leonsis is the founder of the sports group that owns both teams.
New Jersey Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer also committed to paying their staffers for postponed NHL games and other events hosted at the Prudential Center.
Other clubs contributing to their arena’s workers include Toronto, Nashville and Detroit.
NBA stars Kevin Love and Giannis Antetokounmpo were among the first professional sports athletes to publicly pledge money toward aiding arena workers. Rookie Zion Williamson is also compensating arena employees.
When the NBA stopped play Wednesday night, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was the first professional sports owner to publicly acknowledge the arena’s workers.
“It’s not about the team, it’s about the country and life in general," he said. “What about all the people who work here on an hourly basis? We’ll put together a program for them."
Contact Mari Faiello at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @faiello_mari.