Portland Trail Blazers Set Up $1.4 Million Fund to Cover Wages of 1,000 Arena Workers During NBA Suspension

The Portland Trail Blazers have pledged to cover $1.4 million in wages to mitigate the impact the NBA suspension is having on arena workers.

Employees across the 29 arenas in the league are paid hourly and with the NBA season suspended indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak, they face a significant financial blow until the campaign resumes.

The Trail Blazers, however, have taken a significant step to ensure workers at the Moda Center will not be affected by the shutdown after franchise chair Jody Allen decided to set up a fund worth $1.4 million to cover the expenses.

According to The Athletic, the fund will cover wages for approximately 1,000 part-time employees.

"This was very important to Jody that we take care of part-time employees who are missing out on wages relating to the suspension of our season," Blazers CEO Chris McGowan was quoted as saying.

In the eight days since the NBA season was suspended, the Trail Blazers considered a number of aspects such as taxes and eligibility and distribution requirements for the employees included in the fund.

A day after the season was halted, the Trail Blazers were scheduled to host the Memphis Grizzlies and had another nine home games left on their regular season schedule, with their final home game of the campaign scheduled for April 15.

The Blazers aren't the only NBA team to have adopted or being in the process of adopting measures to alleviate the financial impact the coronavirus lockdown is having on arena workers.

The Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards have pledged to help arena workers until the season resumes and the league was working in partnership with them.

"NBA teams, arena owners and players are working together in partnership to support arena employees impacted by our season hiatus," NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told Newsweek earlier this week.

Portland Trail Blazers, Moda Center
A general exterior view of the Moda Center before the game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns at the Moda Center on March 10 in Portland, Oregon. Alika Jenner/Getty

A number of players have also joined the initiative.

New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson, reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love each have donated $100,000 to workers at their respective home arenas.

Meanwhile, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and his wife, Ayesha, on Monday committed to donate one million meals to the Alameda County Community Food Bank for children in the Oakland Unified School District.

The NBA suspended the season last Wednesday, after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive for coronavirus.

In the last week, another 13 players or team members have also tested positive, including Gobert's teammate Donovan Mitchell and Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood.

Four Brooklyn Nets players, including Kevin Durant, were confirmed to have tested positive earlier this week. On Thursday, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets both announced members of their organizations had tested positive to COVID-19, but neither team confirmed whether any of their players were affected.

On the same day, two Los Angeles Lakers players and Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart were also confirmed to have tested positive for the virus.

As of Friday morning, over 14,000 cases have been reported in the U.S., with over 200 deaths and 121 people recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

As the map below provided by Statista shows, New York, Washington and California are the worst-affected states in the U.S.

Over 10,000 people have died since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There are over 245,000 cases globally, with more than 86,000 recovered.

Statista, Coronavirus
The map shows the number of cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. as of March 19. Statista

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