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Monumental Sports furloughs over one-third of workforce due to coronavirus impact

The organization that owns the Washington Wizards, Mystics and Capitals is tightening its belt due to the economic realities of a world without live events and the revenue that comes with them.

Las Vegas Aces v Washington Mystics - Semi Finals - Game One
Monumental Sports Chairman Ted Leonsis and Vice Chairwoman Sheila Johnson, like other sports team owners, are now beginning to furlough employees due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

On Monday, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the organization that owns the Washington Wizards, Mystics and Capitals wrote an internal email to full-time staff that 232 people, or over one-third of its workforce will be furloughed, according to Scott Allen of The Washington Post.

Affected employees will still be paid through Oct. 16, but their last week of work will be on Friday. Furloughs will be indefinite. Fortunately, their healthcare will still be paid in full for as long as the furloughs last. According to an email principal owner Ted Leonsis sent to full-time staff, no one was laid off yet, in the hopes that the company will be ready to welcome fans back to games and events soon.

The news is not surprising. It comes after a June 11 report that MSE would cut salaries of employees earning more than $75,000 per year by 20 percent. according to Samantha Pell of The Washington Post.

Sports and entertainment companies like Monumental Sports are certainly responsible for delivering a WNBA championship trophy, a Stanley Cup and hopefully another Larry O’Brien NBA Finals trophy. But ultimately, they have to bring in dollars at the gate, which come from ticket sales. The Wizards, Mystics and Capitals have started playing again this summer, but none of these games were in front of fans.

Furthermore, Monumental Sports owns Capital One Arena, which holds hundreds of concerts and other shows annually. There have been no events there since March, when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. All of the cancelled games, concerts and shows create an unprecedented loss of revenue which make it hard for any organization to continue operating in the short or medium term.

I feel bad and sorry for each person at MSE who got furloughed and hope they can find new opportunities soon. Given the scale of the pandemic, it is becoming clear that sports, even this fall and winter, can’t be played with fans, which will further set Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and other organizations like it, back for even longer.