BRISTOL – ESPN early on in the pandemic had reduced its on-campus workforce to less than 10% reporting into the office, but with some live sports returning, that number more recently has climbed up to nearly 20%.
“The return of MLB and NBA has been welcome news,” ESPN spokesperson Mike Soltys said in an email correspondence.
In March, ESPN, like many other companies around the country, had to adapt quickly to comply with stay-at-home orders, as the spread of coronavirus was just beginning. Many employees were allowed to work remotely from home, as the sports network continued to broadcast despite live sports coming to a screeching halt.
About 100 on-air talent members and commentators were asked by ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro to take voluntary salary reductions for three months, the Associated Press reported in April. Pitaro indicated the cuts could help save other employees’ jobs.
Despite a number of reports indicating ESPN employees who worked on live events were furloughed early on in the covid-19 outbreak, Soltys said he could not comment on such matters.
“The number of people working on campus stayed around 10% through the first few months of the pandemic,” Soltys told The Bristol Press. “It recently with the return of several sports has climbed up close to approximately 20%. We also have some employees on the road, for instance at Disney World as part of both the MLS and NBA bubbles.”
ESPN employs about 4,000 people in Connecticut.
Although a city like Bristol would normally not be pleased that numerous workers from its largest employer suddenly stopped reporting to work, given the situation, Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu saw this as a major positive for Bristol.
“I actually viewed this as a silver lining during the pandemic,” she said. “First, kudos to ESPN for being able to pivot and send the majority of their workforce home and be able to maintain operations in that fashion. Second, the elimination of almost 4000 people commuting in and out of the city helped contribute to Bristol’s low covid infection rate. Think about the number of people that were not grocery shopping before or after work, touching gas station nozzles, requiring calls for service involving minor traffic incidences for police or ambulance response, etc.”
Now that the virus has been somewhat contained, Zoppo-Sassu said she is more than pleased that some employees of the sports network have returned to work.
“We are thrilled sports are back, and we are thrilled that the ESPN employees are slowly returning to the campus,” the mayor said.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or [email protected]