Editors Note: Rich from TheNatsReport had the idea to write this article and asked me if I wanted to collaborate on writing it. Hopefully, there will be some updates as additional interviews were requested to add to this. We also edited this from the original version that TheNatsReport published.
One of the lingering effects of the baseball lock-out, that few are talking about, is what is going to be happening with the stadium workers and local businesses near stadiums that will be directly affected by the baseball shutdown. It is devastating in Spring Training cities, but what about in the big cities where MLB stadiums are locked up? The seasonally employed stadium workers who make the game-day experience enjoyable for the fans are once again unintended victims of another season to start without games. These workers are an integral part of that game-day experience, however, they do not make nearly as much as players do — not even close.
According to Glassdoor.com, the average stadium worker in the United States makes $60,866 per year and the estimated base pay is $45,000 per year. To put that into perspective, the average ballplayer makes that much in just two game days. In a guest service representative job opening listed with the Colorado Rockies, a part-time seasonal employee will be making $15.87 per hour. (The minimum wage in Colorado is $12.00). Since they are seasonal workers, let’s do that math. For $15.87 per hour times 8 hours per day times, 81 home games a year, equals $10,283.76. That is below the poverty level.
You get the point, the stadium staff is not getting rich off of their jobs, and most need their paychecks to scrape by. We also understand that this is a second job for many, or summer work for college kids. But still, there are some workers that only do seasonal stadium jobs shifting from football to basketball and hockey to baseball.
Back in 2020, when MLB had a shortened season due to COVID-19, all 30 teams pledged to donate $1 million to pay stadium workers. At the time, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement to ESPN about the league’s commitment to helping stadium workers: “Motivated by a desire to help some of the most valuable members of the baseball community, each club has committed $1 million… Motivated by desire to help some of the most valuable members of the baseball community, each club has committed $1 million.” The question is now, what if anything will the owners do this time to help stadium workers if the lock-out continues past the initial two series that were already canceled?
A former Nationals game-day employee talked with The Nats Report on a condition of anonymity about the importance of their salary:
“The concession workers, ushers, custodians, entertainment team who rely on their much smaller salaries to buy groceries during a time when inflation has hit a 40 year high, seem to be an after-thought.”
The former employee went on to say, “I know it’s frustrating for the game-day employees. When I was employed [with the Nationals], games and events were my main source of income. I know a lot of current game-day employees who work under the same circumstances.”
We reached out to small businesses near Nats Park and Kevin Banks, General Manager of The Bullpen which is located a block from Nats Park discussed the economic impact this lock-out might have on the neighborhood around stadium:
“The baseball lockout will affect traffic to all the businesses in the Navy Yard [area] leading to further stress on our industry, and employees who want to work and pay their bills. Employees who are ready, able and excited to welcome fans back to The Bullpen after 2 very challenging years.”
Banks continued, “The Bullpen is the place to gather around before, during and after Nats games with no baseball crowd sizes will be reduced 50-75 percent until it starts again.”
“Expect that other businesses in the area will see business downturns as well… without baseball and most importantly the fans that have supported the Nats and local business we will see declining revenue and the trickle down effect of funds not being spent at the stadium/Navy Yard businesses and throughout the DMV economy on the whole as the reduced income will affect more than just The Bullpen and the Navy Yard area.”
As we watch this labor dispute break out, the businesses around Nationals Park and other MLB stadiums around the country that have already been hurt by COVID regulations with mandates and restrictions, will suffer again without baseball.