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After pledge to pay arena workers expires, Barclays Center operator says it's extended; did protests catalyze decision?

Yesterday, one day after the expiration of the pledge to pay hourly employees at the Barclays Center what they would've earned had arena events not been canceled, Joe Tsai, owner of the Brooklyn Nets and arena operating company, agreed to extend that pledge, NetsDaily reported yesterday.

The decision, which would add an open-ended cost beyond the previous $6 million over 2.5 months to assist some 2,000 part-timers, was indeed civic-minded, as it's unclear if any other venue operators have continued such pledges.

On the other hand, evidence suggests the decision was last-minute and strategic, perhaps catalyzed by the Barclays Center's prominence in days of protest over police brutality. See this tweet even from People's Daily:

After all, arena representatives had refused to answer questions about it over several weeks, and Tsai in an interview last week, spoke in a rather neutral tone about the decision, as if recognizing it left some questions hanging.

A sequence raises questions

Moreover, the arena has yet to update its web site, which still has posted the 3/14/20 announcement--made during a time of uncertainty about the pandemic--about continuing such "emergency economic relief" through the "end of May unless events are rescheduled before that." (See image at right.)

The announcement also came after I publicly questioned whether the team/arena ownership would go beyond its public statement about fighting racial discrimination.

(Not that I claim credit, but had they already agreed to continue paying workers, they presumably would've had the announcement ready at about the same time.)

Bottom line questions

The mothballed arena was never very profitable, and is obviously losing money while shuttered. Then again, Tsai's worth at least $10 billion, so he can afford it. Such spending not only helps people but also achieves significant goodwill.

Meanwhile, the New York Knicks are pretty much the only NBA team not to say anything publicly, and its Trump-supporting owner faces a backlash.

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