The Portland Sea Dogs were supposed to begin their 2020 home schedule next Thursday at Hadlock Field. But the coronavirus outbreak has delayed – and may even force the cancellation – of the baseball season.

For the 215 game-day employees of the Sea Dogs, that means no games to work.

But they will be paid.

Sea Dogs President Geoff Iacuessa said the team’s game-day workers will receive monthly paychecks, based on their 2019 pay. Plus, the team is keeping all 18 of its full-time employees. Iacuessa said team owners Bill Burke and Sally McNamara always maintained that the workers would be paid.

“This was very important to Bill and Sally from the start,” Iacuessa said. “It was never a question of if we would do it, but rather figuring out how we could do it.”

Iacuessa said plans were made before Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus package that included forgivable loans to small business – called the Paycheck Protection Program – in order to keep workers on the payroll.

“We have applied and are hopeful something will come of it,” Iacuessa said.

Burke, the team’s chairman, and McNamara, the treasurer, are the son and daughter of the late Dan Burke, who brought the Sea Dogs to Portland, starting with the 1994 season. Dan Burke died in 2011.

A minor league baseball franchise needs games to be played to generate revenue – money from ticket and concession sales, and advertising dollars from sponsors. If the 2020 season isn’t played, the Sea Dogs would lose 70 home games.

“This will be a very rough stretch for our business financially,” Bill Burke said. “We’ve cut back on as many non-people related expenses (as possible).

“We decided (to pay the workers) because we have an incredible group of people who have supported our team, and have been incredibly loyal over the years.

“We wanted to give them one less thing to worry about in the middle of all this uncertainty.”

Iacuessa said eligible employees are those who worked last year and had already signed on for this season. Their first check will come in early May, for games missed in April, and will continue monthly.

“I assumed it would be zero pay this year,” said Jim Semons, 71, an usher for the past six seasons. “When I got the letter (from Iacuessa), I couldn’t believe it. The Burkes didn’t have to do this. They make you feel valued. It’s genuine.”


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