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Layoffs, furloughs come for Memphis Redbirds

Memphis RedbirdsThe Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and sister USL Championship team Memphis 901 FC confirmed layoffs and employee furloughs.

All in all, 18 full-time employees were laid off last Friday, with other full-time employees furloughed in the meantime. The teams both play at AutoZone Park, and both MiLB and USL Championship play in sports with suspended seasons, and no start date in site. From the Daily Memphian:

On Monday, [Craig] Unger gave the following statement to The Daily Memphian: “As a result of the economic impact from the postponement of sports and events at the facility due to the unforeseen and unexpected COVID-19 emergency, we have made the difficult decision to right-size our staff during this period.

“To assist our teammates, we are filing unemployment claims on their behalf and covering 100% of their health insurance premiums of front office employees affected by these adjustments.

“We look forward to resuming our seasons and welcoming fans back to AutoZone Park as soon as it’s safe to reopen.”

Unger is president of both teams. Principal Owner Peter Freund is a minority owner of the New York Yankees and Principal Owner of Trinity Sports Holdings, which also owns the Williamsport Crosscutters (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) and has a stake in the Charleston RiverDogs (Low A; Sally League). Freund has invested in facilities in both Williamsport and Memphis while investing in pro soccer in Memphis, bring in Tim Howard as a player-coach and minority investor for Memphis 901. Because of success in two wildly different markets, Trinity Sports Holdings was our 2017 Organization of the Year, while previous investments in AutoZone Park upgrades earned our Best Ballpark Renovation Award in 2015.

The shutdown off the season cuts Minor League Baseball a few ways. Besides suspending games and delaying the season opening, shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic takes away the change for any offseason income via non-baseball events, which has grown into a potentially vital side business for many teams.

With hourly news about the spread of the coronavirus impacting the sports-business and facilities industries, it’s more important than ever to stay up with the latest news in the venues industry. That’s why we’re launching a new Venues Digest newsletter focusing on coronavirus information across the ballparks, arenas, stadiums, theater and performing-arts worlds. For now it will appear daily, and for now it will be free of charge. Sign up here.

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