One simple truth is clear as a bell during these uncertain times: if you can’t hold events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can’t make money. If you can’t make money, you can only pay those who work for you for so long before you’re going to have to make some tough decisions.
The Blues, while their value has been increasing over the years, are not one of the NHL’s wealthiest franchises. Tom Stillman and the rest of the ownership group are not the richest owners in the league. They’ve been paying employees but that’s run out of steam.
On Monday, they’ll begin furloughs of employees. Employees will keep health insurance and can apply for assistance through the employee assistance fund. Those not furloughed will be taking a 20% pay cut for now.
Events at both the Enterprise Center and Stifel Theater are obviously on hold, with no timetable for return.
Offering comment, president and CEO Chris Zimmerman said:
“We have been fighting to manage the impact to our hockey and business staff since the league shutdown began on March 12. Though we have been successful in protecting our staff to date, today we need to initiate plans to help our business weather the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in our lifetime, we are fighting both a health and economic crisis.”
The NHL is still working toward salvaging some play this season, no doubt motivated by the $500 to $1.1 billion that they’ve lost due to the play stoppage. Commissioner Gary Bettman is being pragmatic, saying:
“This isn’t a race. The stakes are too important. … While some of them may have been able to work out in terms of physical strength over the last few weeks, the fact is, none of our guys really have been on skates. We’re going to have to make sure that they’re in game-ready condition, because we don’t want to put them on the ice and risk injury and their careers. So we’re going to need time to come back right, and when we come back, it’ll be having done the right things.”