Detroit — Delaware North, the Buffalo, New York-based company that staffs food and beverage services at arenas all over the globe, including locally, has temporarily laid off thousands of full-time workers and told thousands more part-time workers that it will not be able to offer financial assistance during the coronavirus shutdown.
Compensation for food- and beverage-service employees, including those who staff Little Caesars Arena and Comerica Park, has been in question since the sports industry ceased earlier this month as COVID-19 became a global pandemic.
Officials for Delaware North huddled last week to discuss the options, and announced its decision Wednesday. It said it is temporarily laying off 3,100 full-time employees, with those employees receiving their benefits for eight weeks, as well as one full week of pay. Full-time employees staying on are doing so at a reduced pay rate. And there's nothing available for the part-time employees.
Delaware North also has employees locally at Hockeytown Cafe and Detroit Metro Airport.
"The spread of COVID-19 has forced the closure of nearly every one of Delaware North’s more than 200 operating locations — including sports and entertainment venues, restaurants, casinos, and parks," the company said in a statement, while adding its airport locations continue to operate, but at a reduced scale.
"The company, along with many others in the hospitality industry, is absorbing ongoing financial losses as a result of government directives appropriately aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.
"Because of the sheer size of the company’s workforce and the uncertainty over when the crisis will subside, Delaware North (has) made the agonizing but unavoidable decision" with the temporary layoffs.
Nia Winston, president of Unite HERE Local 24 which represents the Metro Detroit workers affected, didn't immediately return a message from The News seeking comment.
Delaware North has more than 55,000 full- and part-time employees across the globe, with its Sportservice wing serving 50 ballparks, stadiums and arenas.
Food and beverage workers locally have been in limbo since the cancellations of concerts and sporting events began. Ilitch Holdings announced a $1 million fund to pay part-time event staff at LCA and Fox Theatre, and later pledged another $1 million for the same crew that works Comerica Park. The Pistons also pledged to continue paying its game-day employees, also at LCA. But none of those funds covers the food and beverage workers employed by Delaware North.
Pistons star Blake Griffin pledged $100,000, and that could be used to help those workers, but there's been no description how that fund would be used.
Delaware North is owned by Jeremy Jacobs, who also owns the NHL's Boston Bruins and TD Garden, home of the Bruins and the NBA's Boston Celtics. Last week, Jacobs announced a fund to continue paying part-time employees at TD Garden — the last owner in the NHL to announce such steps. Then, days later, it was revealed that part-time Bruins workers at TD Garden were told they were being laid off.
Jacobs is worth more than $3 billion, according to the latest estimates. Delaware North claims more than $3 billion in revenue, annually.
Jacobs' three sons, Jerry, Lou and Charlie, are CEOs of Delaware North, and in 2019 were handed the responsibilities of running the Bruins.
"Delaware North is taking these temporary steps to ensure the company’s long-term success," the company said in its statement released Wednesday. "The Jacobs family and Delaware North hope the crisis will be short-lived and greatly appreciate the talented and passionate employees who have made the company successful and hope they remain healthy and safe."