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LHM Sports & Entertainment — the company that runs Jazz, Bees and Megaplex Theaters — furloughing 40% of workforce

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.

It was another tough day at the office for some of Utah’s most well-known companies.

Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment — the group that oversees the Utah Jazz, the Salt Lake Bees, the Salt Lake City Stars, Megaplex Theaters, and the Zone Sports Radio network — announced a 40% reduction in workforce on Friday morning via furloughs, after revenues were cut to near zero in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 200 people will temporarily lose their jobs as a result of the cuts, with no clear return date.

“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. “With no clear indication of when our businesses can fully reopen, we have made the difficult yet necessary decision to furlough a portion of our employees within Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment.”

The NBA and Minor League Baseball seasons are on indefinite hiatus, while those leagues wait until play can resume safely. Meanwhile, big-studio films that Megaplex Theaters rely on have been delayed through June and into July.

“Those furloughed will remain LHMSE employees and maintain healthcare benefits during the furlough period,” Olson said. “We anticipate that these furloughed employees will return to their positions at the end of the furlough period.”

The organization says it has very little control over when revenue will return. Theaters might return before spectator sports, but without big-budget films and with skittish audiences, normality may still lie a long way off.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver still doesn’t know when to expect a return to play. On a recent conference call with media, he indicated that the NBA’s comeback procedure would be “decided by data, not a date.”

The furloughs follow significant layoffs in Larry H. Miller businesses in early April. Then, about 1,000 employees were laid off across all LHM businesses, including car dealerships. Friday’s furloughs do not impact the dealerships or other non-sports and entertainment businesses.

Other LHM employees — especially those with higher salaries — have been asked to take salary cuts during the pandemic.

The NBA’s season was suspended on March 11 after Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s positive test for the coronavirus, while baseball’s season never got underway. Megaplex closed their theaters on March 18.

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