LOS ANGELES — The Lakers applied for and received a loan of about $4.6 million under the stimulus package Congress passed in March, but the team says it returned the money to the federal government.
“The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program,” the team said in a statement first provided to ESPN. “However, once we found out the funds from the program had been depleted, we repaid the loan so that financial support would be directed to those most in need.
“The Lakers remain completely committed to supporting both our employees and our community.”
The Payroll Protection Program, part of the $2.2-trillion stimulus package, was designed to help businesses weather the coronavirus outbreak. It included $349 billion in forgivable loans for businesses who used at least 75% of the funds on payroll and also retained or quickly rehired their staff. The House voted last week to approve another half-trillion dollars to replenish the depleted program, as well as provide money for hospitals and testing.
The Lakers have long been one of the most valuable franchises in American sports, with Forbes estimating the team’s value at close to $4 billion, but have not been immune to financial downturns. In the summer of 2011, the Lakers laid off several employees to prepare for the coming lockout.
During this pandemic, though, the Lakers have not furloughed or laid off any employees and don’t plan to do so despite lost revenue. The NBA suspended operations March 11 after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, and it’s unclear when play will resume. The regular season was set to end April 15, with the playoffs beginning three days later.
To help ease their financial burden, the Lakers asked their top executives to defer 20% of their pay until mid-December or the start of the 2020-21 season, whichever comes earlier.
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