Editors Note: Stephen Mears from TalkNats.com contributed to this article.
One of the lingering effects of the lockout that few are talking about, is what is going to be happening with the stadium workers who make the game-day experience enjoyable for the fans? These workers are an integral part of that experience, however, they do not make nearly as much as players do.
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 times 8 hours per day times, 81 home games equals $10,283.76. That is below the poverty level.
Let’s take a deeper dive into one of the most important jobs inside the stadium and that is the field maintenance crew.
According to an open job posting also with the Rockies, a member of the ground crew will also make $15.87 per hour. (The minimum wage as of July 1, 2021, the minimum wage in DC is $15.20.)
Based on job postings on ZipRecruiter, the Baseball Field Maintenance job market in both Collegeville, PA, and the surrounding area is very active. For those who aren’t familiar with Collegeville, PA, it is a suburb outside of Philadelphia. In that area baseball field maintenance jobs make on average $45,201 per year or $1,073 (2%) less than the national average annual salary of $46,274.
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 that work only 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 pledge to donate $1MM each. 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.” While there is a clear difference between the two situations, The question is now, what 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, games and events were my main source of income. I know a lot of current game-day employees who work under the same circumstances.”
Local Washington D.C. Business React
Kevin Banks, General Manager of The Bullpen which is located right near Nats Park discussed the economic impact this lockout might have on the neighborhood around Nats Park. In a statement to TalkNats, Banks says: “The baseball lockout will affect traffic to all the businesses in the navy yard 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 a 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 unfairly targeted all year by mandates and restrictions, will suffer again without baseball.
The Nats Report reached out to the Washington Nationals asking for comment, and we never got a response back from the team.