Add the Miami Heat to the list of organizations and players around sports that are stepping up to help during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Heat and AmericanAirlines Arena announced Wednesday that they will be providing disaster relief assistance to team and arena part-time employees. In addition, the Heat and AmericanAirlines Arena will provide funds to their partners, including food and beverage concessionaire (Levy Restaurants), security (Contemporary Services Corporation), and housekeeping (Pritchard Sports and Entertainment) to assist workers during the coronavirus shutdown.
Also, the Micky & Madeleine Arison Family Foundation will donate an additional $1 million to the Miami Heat Charitable Fund at the Miami Foundation “to establish an initiative designed specifically for employees and/or other community needs as they arise in the coming months.”
“We have approximately 1,000 part-timers and they are the backbone of our business,” Eric Woolworth, the Heat’s president of business operations, said in a statement. “Night in and night out, every single one of these employees works tirelessly to provide our guests and our community with the best experience in sports and entertainment. They deserve our help as we all navigate this unpredictable situation together. We are eternally grateful to the Micky & Madeleine Arison Family Foundation for always stepping forward to provide their unwavering support.”
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love was the first to jump in and publicly announce his plan to help out arena workers. Loved announced Thursday that he was donating $100,000 to help support the Cavaliers’ arena and support staff who are affected by the stoppage.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin are among other NBA players who have donated to support their home arena staffs.
How long will the NBA’s coronavirus hiatus last? Nobody knows at this point.
In what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver titled “A Letter to NBA Fans” last week, he wrote: “The hiatus will last at least 30 days.” The stoppage started Thursday, pushing the 30-day mark out to April 10.
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But on Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines that will likely extend the league’s shutdown into May: “CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers [whether groups or individuals] cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.”
Even in an arena with no fans, an NBA game would include 50 or more people when counting players, coaches, training staff, team security and other essential personnel. An eight-week timeline means the earliest date the league can resume the season is May 11.
The NBA regular season had been scheduled to end April 15, with the playoffs scheduled to begin the weekend of of April 18-19. The NBA Finals were set to start June 4.
NBA owners and executives are preparing for the possibility of mid-to-late June as a best-case scenario for the league’s return, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Under that timetable, the season could extend into August.
However, there’s also the fear that this season could be completely lost.