Ilitch Holdings issues layoffs, furloughs in Red Wings, Tigers business operations

Ilitch Holdings began processing a series of layoffs and issuing temporary furloughs Wednesday in its…

Ilitch Holdings began processing a series of layoffs and issuing temporary furloughs Wednesday in its business operations, which includes employees of the Detroit Red Wings, Tigers and Fox Theatre.

Chris Granger, group president for sports and entertainment of Ilitch Holdings, informed employees of the impending moves and explained the decision in an email obtained by MLive. He said the cost-cutting was necessary because of lost revenue do to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These actions … are incredibly hard, especially for those who regrettably will be leaving us,” Granger wrote in the email.

“It will be exceedingly hard to say goodbye to co-workers, friends, and those we consider family, but, unfortunately, these actions are necessary as we begin the process of aligning ourselves to the current and future market realities in the live event industry.”

The moves apparently do not affect the hockey and baseball operations.

It has been more than six months since Little Caesars Arena, Comerica Park and other venues have hosted any events with fans as more than 200 sporting events and concerts have been cancelled due to the pandemic.

Granger mentioned in the email that while the pandemic significantly impacted their businesses, they did not previously lay-off or furlough any employees or reduce their pay, including those whose workloads were dramatically reduced, or, in some cases, non-existent.

He added that they contributed $2 million in funding to help support their part-time event-based colleagues at LCA, Comerica Park, the Fox Theatre and Joker Marchant Stadium, the Tigers’ spring training site in Lakeland, Fla.

Granger told employees he doesn’t know when their venues will re-open or fans will be allowed back in any significant manner, adding, “But I look forward to sharing that day with you and ramping up our business operations to meet that moment when it does arise.

“While our moves today are difficult, I also want to let you know that we continue planning for our future. We are preparing for when our venues will be able to safely welcome guests, we are aggressively booking events into the future, and we are continuing to strategically invest in our teams, including  in player development, analytics, scouting, and sports science.”