When the National Basketball Association became the first professional sports league to suspend their season due to COVID-19, there were many questions and very few answers which left everyone grasping for what comes next.
For the hourly workers who are essential to the operation of arenas like the Pepsi Center, the suspension of these leagues did not just leave them without answers, but also without paychecks.
Thankfully many owners, players, coaches and other individuals have stepped up to provide assistance for those who found themselves out of work due to the pandemic, but many are still struggling even with the addition of stimulus checks being given out by the federal government and that is without also noting that many checks are not finding their way to the bank accounts of struggling Americans as they were intended to.
With so much uncertainty and the understanding that many are still struggling, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment decided to step up despite already guaranteeing pay for their hourly employees — full-time and part-time — through the end of their respective regular seasons.
The new way they have been able to help their employees in need is by creating what they have called the KSE COVID-19 Relief Fund.
“KSE, Kroenke Sports Charities, and the Kroenke Family Foundation have responded in many ways to assist in crisis-relief efforts, including working with several of our business partners and numerous government and non-profit agencies to help tens of thousands of people affected by COVID-19,” Kroenke Sports and Entertainment announced via press release. “While supporting these efforts is an obligation and a privilege, our No. 1 priority remains the well-being of our employees – part-time and full-time. We announced last month that KSE would pay its variable and hourly employees through the end of the regular season once professional leagues announced the suspension of their seasons. Since then we have worked closely with many of these employees to help them better understand the CARES Act and benefits for which they are eligible.
“In an effort to further assist these employees, and after speaking with several members of our amazing network of KSE teams, we are pleased to announce that we have established a KSE COVID-19 Relief Fund.”
The relief fund that KSE put together is essentially a pool of money accumulated through donations that is being used to assist those who need it. In order to jump start the donations, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment made a $500,000 initial donation and they also noted that they expect the fund to reach $1,000,000 “in the very near future” thanks to donations from players, coaches and executives alike.
“We are also proud to announce that the Kroenke Family Foundation will be leading with the first donation into the Fund in the amount of $500,000,” the press release stated. “Based on comments from our incredible players, coaches, and executive staff, we fully expect the Fund to grow to $1,000,000 in the very near future.”
While assisting their own employees is their first concern, there is also an aspect of gratitude that exists in the creation of the KSE Covid Relief Fund. In the release, there were multiple occasions in which they specifically thanked their staff for helping flatten the curve. That type of appreciation has been too uncommon and Kroenke Sports and Entertainment deserves credit for vocalizing their respect for their own employees doing what they can to help keep the rest of their community safe.
“On behalf of our family and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, we would like to personally thank each and every one of you for your continued dedication and commitment to the organization in the most difficult of times,” the press release stated. “No individual or business has been unscathed during this pandemic. We’ve all been impacted deeply – professionally and personally. However, the collective spirit and resiliency of our colleagues has been overwhelming and awe-inspiring.
“Employees are working hard every day. Employees are offering support and encouragement to their colleagues – some of whom have even lost loved ones. Employees are volunteering to assist not only those in dire need but also the courageous and selfless frontline workers. No words will ever do justice to the pride and gratitude our family has for your service to the company as you also continue to do all you can to help ‘flatten the curve’.”
In order to make the KSE COVID Relief Fund as accessible as possible, they are providing a short application to employees to determine if they are eligible to receive the additional assistance. Additionally, any financial assistance given will not be taxed, which is just another variable that no longer exists for people who have enough stress and worries on their plate as it is.
“It is our deepest hope that this fund will help provide basic necessities and essentials to those struggling the most financially,” the press release states. “We have formed a committee to review and respond to all requests. The only requirement is for those in need to complete a short application to determine eligibility criteria. Any financial assistance an employee receives will not be taxed. Eligible employees will be provided an application in a separate correspondence.”
One fact needs to be crystal clear: Kroenke Sports and Entertainment does not have to do this. They are already paying their hourly employees through the end of the regular season so it is not as if they were going to look bad publicly or were under public pressure to take these additional steps. It seems they did this because they know their employees need help and they have the means to provide. That act deserves to be celebrated.
“We would like to give a special thanks to KSE executives and members of our sports organizations from players to coaches to front office executives who have asked how they can contribute,” the press release stated. “In these uncertain times, giving back and supporting the well-being of our families, communities, and ourselves is more important than ever. We could not be prouder of how our company and employees have come together to provide relief and support to the many in need.”