SALT LAKE CITY — With uncertainty surrounding when business can fully resume, the Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment division of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies began informing employees Friday morning of furloughs that will end up affecting a large number of the companies’ workforce.
The Sports & Entertainment division, which includes the Utah Jazz, Salt Lake Bees, Vivint Smart Home Arena and Megaplex Theaters, will furlough around 200 people, approximately 40% of the workforce, KSL.com confirmed.
Those who are furloughed will remain LHM employees and maintain healthcare benefits during the furlough period.
“These are unprecedented times and, like other companies across all industries, the sports and entertainment world has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jim Olson, president of Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment, said in a statement. “The impact has required all of us to make sacrifices. For the past eight weeks during the mandated hiatus, our employees continued to receive compensation and benefits while other cost-cutting measures were implemented.”
The entire Larry H. Miller Group cutting “a small percentage” — around 1,000 employees — in early April. That cut involved car dealerships and other non-sports and entertainment businesses; Friday’s furloughs do not.
Olson said it was a “difficult, yet necessary” decision to begin furloughing employees due to the NBA and minor league baseball seasons being on indefinite hiatus and movie theaters being temporarily closed.
The NBA's season was suspended on March 11 after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, and the LHM Group closed Megaplex Theaters on March 18. The Bees, meanwhile, have yet to throw out their first pitch of the year.
Olson said the company plans to bring employees back when a sense of normalcy returns. The employees, however, were not given a timeline for when that might happen, leaving them in a state of limbo.
“We anticipate that these furloughed employees will return to their positions at the end of the furlough period,” Olson said. “We are grateful for the contributions of these valued colleagues and we will be doing all we can to support them during this transition.”