Ilitches set up $1M fund to pay arena, theater workers for next month

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Part-time workers at Little Caesars Arena, Fox Theatre and Comerica Park will have their wages covered for at least one month in the wake of sweeping concert and sports cancellations this week.

Ilitch Holdings made the announcement Friday in a statement to The Detroit News.

The start of the Tigers season has not been determined.

"In this time of uncertainty, we are committed to standing with and supporting our dedicated and hard-working colleagues and providing their families the reassurance they deserve," said Chris Granger, group president for sports and entertainment for Ilitch Holdings.

Granger announced a $1 million fund has been established by the Red Wings, Tigers, 313 Presents, Fox Theatre and Little Caesars Arena in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

On Thursday, the Pistons, who share LCA with the Red Wings, committed to paying part-time and hourly staff. The Pistons didn't specify a dollar amount.

The NBA and NHL have suspended their seasons, and MLB has delayed its start by at least two weeks.

And concerts have been cancelled in rapid fashion, and that will continue now that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday a ban on all public gatherings of more than 250 people.

The fund, the Ilitches said, for now will cover four Red Wings home games, eight Pistons home games, six Tigers spring-training games in Lakeland, Fla., as well as concert and special-event employees. It doesn't cover lost Tigers games at Comerica Park.

Among events cancelled at LCA and Fox Theatre: Little Big Town, WWE's Friday Night Smackdown, the Motor City Blues Festival, Zac Brown Band, March Madness, Nick Cannon Presents: MTV Wild 'N Out, Blake Shelton, Festival of Laughs, Billie Eilish, RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles, The Bachelor Live and the Frozen Four, hockey's Division I championship that was set for LCA in April.

"Our sincere hope is that this provides comfort to our colleagues in this difficult time," Granger said. "When events resumes, we look forward to our colleagues being safely back to work as normal."

Granger said if you were scheduled to work any of the events listed here, you'll be paid. He also said when there are opportunities, arena staff could be moved into other roles.

It's not immediately clear if this covers third-party employees, like several of those who work in food and beverage services at LCA and Comerica Park. Delaware North, which runs food and beverage services at LCA and Comerica Park, hasn't returned multiple messages from The News.

Pistons star Blake Griffin announced Friday he would donate $100,000 to LCA workers, as the Cavaliers' Kevin Love did for his organization a day earlier.

There are the latest initiatives by an arena or sports figures. The Cleveland Cavaliers, owned by Detroit's Dan Gilbert, announced a similar initiative Friday, and earlier in the week Dalas Mavericks owner and "Shark Tank" star Mark Cuban said he was setting up a program to pay his employees, perhaps in return for volunteer work when possible.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984