The Warriors laid off 1,720 part-time event staff in mid-March — the largest cuts at a single Bay Area location to date during coronavirus — according to a recent state filing with the California Employment Development Department.
Though the report doesn’t specify the duration of the layoffs, team spokesman Raymond Ridder told The Chronicle that the employees will return to work as soon as Chase Center is allowed to begin hosting events again. Employees were notified shortly after the NBA suspended play March 11 to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
The layoffs were limited to employees whose job requires a game or event. Affected workers can apply for federal and state unemployment benefits, and the Warriors are providing supplemental relief grants and payments to those part-time employees who’ve been laid off.
In mid-March, the team announced that its owners, players and coaches would donate $1.5 million to a community relief fund. All of that is being distributed to event staff to help them weather the shutdown.
San Francisco’s Uber is laying off 3,700 employees globally, and Airbnb is laying off nearly 1,900 globally, but neither company has specified how many jobs are being lost in the Bay Area, making the Chase Center layoffs the largest confirmed local cuts to date.
“Due to the extended shelter-in-place, we are required under the WARN Act to provide notice to part-time employees who normally work at Chase Center events,” the Warriors wrote in a statement to The Chronicle on Monday. “The notice does not indicate a new change in their work status, and we look forward to welcoming them back to Chase Center when it is safe to resume events.”
Some of the biggest layoffs in the region during the coronavirus pandemic have come from food vendors and events staff. Bon Appetit Management Co., which partners with the Warriors and Chase Center, has laid off 1,507 employees. Team San Jose, which runs the San Jose Convention Center and other arts venues, has laid off 1,304, and the San Francisco Giants have laid off 1,200.
Though it’s unclear when Chase Center — the $1.4 billion arena that opened in the Mission Bay neighborhood in September — will be able to host events again, the Warriors are proceeding as if their season is done. Head coach Steve Kerr said on a Zoom call two weeks ago that “everyone is kind of assuming that this is kind of it.”
With a league-worst record of 15-50, the Warriors are the only NBA team already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The league has yet to officially cancel the rest of the regular season, but many front-office executives believe that, if play resumes, it would be only for the postseason.
In an interview last week with ESPN, Warriors general manager Bob Myers said that, should the NBA decide to finish the regular season, Golden State would comply with that directive. According to a league source, the Warriors are worried about the NBA being able to play a full 2020-21 season.
The team already stands to lose $25 million at the gate alone if its final seven home games are canceled, and that’s on top of the revenue it’s accustomed to netting — and won’t get — from a potential playoff run. There are also the millions of dollars Golden State, which owns Chase Center, will lose from canceled concerts and events.
According to Forbes, just under a quarter of the franchise’s recent $4.3 billion valuation was attributed to its state-of-the-art arena. Now, with Chase Center indefinitely closed to the public, the Warriors have postponed events through July.
A significant drop in the NBA’s salary cap, which is based on expected revenue for next season, would have enormous financial repercussions for Golden State. If the cap dropped $10 million from its projection of $115 million, for example, the Warriors would face a $195 million luxury-tax bill — $15 million more than they will spend on their entire $180 million roster.
This could force Golden State majority owner Joe Lacob, who has long been willing to spend big in the name of winning, to reassess his approach to roster-building.
In the meantime, the Warriors’ part-time employees have more pressing concerns. Even with the help of unemployment benefits, supplemental relief grants and payments, event staffers must be creative to get by without an income they long used to support their families.
“Everybody is really ready to go back to work,” Tony Evans, a bartender for the Warriors and Oakland A’s, told The Chronicle. “We got a little money from the A’s and the Warriors, which is going to definitely help, but we really are ready. People are hurting, really bad.”
San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Roland Li contributed to this report.