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Utah Jazz, Larry H. Miller Group of Companies lay off portion of workforce

(Eric Walden | The Salt Lake Tribune) Vivint Smart Home Arena's building operations crew disassembles the basketball court after the Jazz's Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 victory over the Washington Wizards in preparation for a hip-hop concert on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. The Viv hosted an event for nine straight days between Feb. 21-29, each requiring a floor changeover.

The Utah Jazz and the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies laid off hundreds of employees on Friday, as many of their businesses have lost nearly all of their ongoing revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company declined to reveal the total number of employees laid off, but in a statement sent to the news media, a company spokesman referred to the layoffs as a “small percentage of our workforce.” The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies employs more than 10,000 people across the western United States, according to its website.

“Due to the impact on our customer-facing businesses from this unprecedented pandemic, the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, of which the Utah Jazz are a part, unfortunately had to make difficult decisions to reduce a small percentage of our workforce," the statement reads.

"Over the past several weeks, we have worked to manage and reduce costs, including executive compensation, and have reached a point where we have had to say farewell to a limited number of our valued employees. We have connected our associates with outplacement services and aligned them with employers who have immediate hiring needs. We remain focused on helping our communities stay healthy.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the layoffs didn’t include any of the team’s basketball operations staff. Furthermore, some employees who were not laid off were asked to take compensation reductions as part of the cost-cutting measures, he said.

The layoffs include employees from nearly every other branch of the operation, though. One Larry H. Miller car dealership contacted Friday let go of approximately 25% of its employees, a number that they said was typical of layoffs throughout the 65 dealerships owned by the company. Layoffs also occurred in Utah Jazz business operations, Saxton Horne advertising, as well as the Zone Sports Network’s radio stations.

Of the employees contacted by The Tribune on Friday, none received severance payments. Several were told that they were “eligible for rehire” once the pandemic subsided.

One of the most high-profile layoffs was 1280 AM morning radio host Tony Parks. Parks also fulfills a number of roles around the organization, including emceeing Jazz games at Vivint Arena and Bees games at Smith’s Ballpark. He also acted as PA announcer for the SLC Stars.

After Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s positive test for the coronavirus on March 11, the NBA suspended its regular season indefinitely. Vivint Arena announced postponements of all arena events through the end of April, and has begun moving the ones in May as well. On March 18, the LHM-owned chain of Megaplex Theaters were closed as well.

Gobert donated $200K to part-time arena employees in the wake of his diagnosis, an amount “more than matched” by the Miller family. That money will be divided equally and distributed to about 1,200 part-time arena employees on their next paychecks, most slated to be delivered next week.

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