Among those who immediately realized they would be affected by last week’s suspension of spring training and delayed start to the baseball season were the workers at ballparks across America, those who rely on game days for steady income and now face weeks or even months without that assurance.
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball and its clubs took the first step toward ensuring those people will be taken care of.
Each of the 30 franchises has agreed to donate $1 million to cover the incomes of those stadium workers who have been impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic.
“Over the past 48 hours, I have been approached by representatives of all 30 clubs to help assist the thousands of ballpark employees affected by the delay in the start of the Major League Baseball season,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Motivated by a desire to help some of the most valuable members of the baseball community, each club has committed $1 million. The individual clubs will be announcing more details surrounding this support effort in their local communities. ...
“I am proud that our clubs came together so quickly and uniformly to support these individuals who provide so much to the game we love.”
Stadium workers, including ushers, security personnel and concessions workers, typically are paid by the game or by the hour. With MLB choosing to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control’s recent recommendation that all organized gatherings of 50 or more people be canceled for at least eight weeks, thousands of ballpark employees around the league came to realize their services won’t be needed until at least mid-May, if not later.
The Nationals, just as other clubs did for their ballpark employees, have now taken steps to ensure the workers at Nationals Park will be paid during the hiatus.
“In response to the delay of the 2020 season, the Nationals have established a $1 million dollar fund to support the dedicated stadium staff who play such an important role in fostering a sense of community among our fans,” the team announced. “Many of our stadium team members have been part of the Washington Nationals since the beginning. We know the decision to postpone the season was the correct one, but it would be wrong for that decision to disproportionately impact those individuals who rely on income from working games to help support their families. We wanted to begin to help lessen the worry associated with the season’s delay. As a country, as a region and as a fan base we are stronger when we support one another.”
Among the more pressing matters that still need to be resolved: Payments to minor leaguers. Though players on the 40-man roster and in major league camp this spring will continue to receive their per diems and housing allotments during the hiatus, no announcement has been made yet about players from minor league camps, who have been sent home and now in many cases face serious financial burdens.
The topic remains on the to-do list for Manfred and Players Association executive director Tony Clark, though players not on 40-man rosters are not part of the union. A handful of clubs have already announced they will continue to pay their minor leaguers per diems. The Nationals have not announced their plan to address the issue yet.