Apollo’s Harris Will Pay Devils Arena Staff During Shutdown

(Bloomberg) -- Despite NHL games being suspended indefinitely, hourly workers and event staff at the New Jersey Devils’ arena will be paid through the end of the regular season.

The team’s owners -- Apollo Global Management co-founder Josh Harris and Blackstone Group executive David Blitzer -- are the first in the league to make such a pledge during the coronavirus crisis, according to Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Scott O’Neil.

Harris Blitzer owns the Prudential Center, the Newark, New Jersey, arena where the Devils play. The organization’s assets also include basketball’s Philadelphia 76ers, but it doesn’t own the Sixers’ arena -- the Wells Fargo Center, which is owned by Comcast Spectacor.

Separately, Comcast Spectacor said Friday that it would pay game-day employees for their scheduled hours for events postponed by the NHL, NBA and Major League Lacrosse.

Like the NHL, the NBA halted its season this week, following a positive Covid-19 test by one of its players. Every other big pro sport, including Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball, has followed suit.

“We realize the suspension of our Devils games and concerts has created an unintended hardship for the men and women who provide for their families and believe our commitment to them in this unprecedented time is imperative,” said Harris, who has a net worth of $4.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Harris Blitzer said its executives are in talks with vendors and agencies that service the Devils’ arena to come up with a support plan for their employees.

Other team owners are expected to make similar moves. Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has said he will assist arena workers.

And Ilitch Cos. -- owner of the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings -- is backing a $1 million fund to cover a month’s wages for part-time event staff.

The Devils had seven home games remaining on their schedule when the league halted play.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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