SBD/November 2, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Pro Leagues Stay Nimble In Handling Business Operations In Sandy's Aftermath

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy's destruction in the greater N.Y. area, major U.S. professional sports leagues were forced to close their HQs, and operate under difficult circumstances. While the safety and well-being of the leagues' employees was always top priority, most offices remained operational. THE DAILY reached out to the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL and MLS for details regarding this week's logistical challenges in conducting business operations. The NHL had not responded as of presstime.

MLB: MLB's N.Y.-based staff of more than 250 helping run the World Series on-site spent last weekend in Detroit essentially at cross purposes due to the onset of Hurricane Sandy. While in Detroit, MLB granted its employees a liberal leave policy. League staffers were able to return to the N.Y. area whenever they felt themselves or their families were at risk amid the oncoming storm. What quickly emerged over the World Series weekend was an internal employee triage system. Those whose core tasks were finished and those with suburban families generally left Detroit first, trailed by upper Manhattan apartment dwellers less at risk from the storm. MLB also allowed staffers to stay in Detroit as long as needed to wait out the storm there. Carpools immediately formed, with dozens of staffers making the 600-mile drive from Detroit to N.Y. overnight Sunday into Monday. MLB also arranged a charter flight Tuesday morning, after the storm, for those who stayed in Detroit. MLB's automotive sponsor Chevrolet also chipped in, supplying some of the cars used for the carpools, including several promotional vehicles emblazoned with "Official Car of Major League Baseball."

NBA: The NBA's N.Y. and New Jersey offices were closed to employees on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Employees that were able to safely work from home were encouraged to do so. Key facilities and operations staff were housed in hotels near the NBA's offices for the duration of the storm. The league offices re-opened for business on Thursday for employees who had a safe and timely way to commute to the office. NBA employees still experiencing significant issues with their commute, or other issues related to the storm, were encouraged to make alternate arrangements such as modified work hours, or working from home or an alternate location. The NBA also employed a carpool for employees unable to make it into the office by public transportation or other means. Shared car services were coordinated from several outlying N.Y.-metro areas to pick up and drop off league employees. For NBA staffers without access to either running water or hot water, the league made arrangements for shower facilities at Manhattan's Equinox fitness center and the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Secaucus, N.J.

NFL: While the NFL's N.Y. office was officially closed on Monday and Tuesday, it remained operational via mobile phones, conference calls and e-mail. The NFL set up shuttle bus services in Secaucus, N.J.; White Plains, N.Y.; Garden City, N.Y. and Stamford, Conn. to assist with employees' commutes. Daily e-mails, text messages, automated voicemails and updates on the league's website informed staff of weather developments, traffic situations and other issues. Throughout the week, the league stayed in contact with teams affected by the storm, and with those who had to modify travel plans, such as the Steelers. Additionally, the NFL remained in contact with local and state authorities in an effort to ensure the league was not diverting any resources that could be used to help the relief efforts. Hurricane Sandy also delayed the return trip from Sunday's Patriots-Rams Int'l Series game in London for many NFL employees.

MLS: MLS' N.Y. office has been closed all week and was still without power at presstime. League officials are not sure when power will return to their HQs. MLS' executive staff -- including Commissioner Don Garber, MLS President Mark Abbott and SUM President Kathy Carter -- will work out of the Proskauer Rose offices in Manhattan until the league's main office returns to full operations. Many MLS employees are working remotely from home.
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